Addressing debate on federalism

Basra governor rejects turning Basra into federal region

BASRA — Governor Asaad Al-Eidani voiced his strong opposition on Tuesday to the proposal of making Basra province an autonomous federal region, cautioning that it could lead to new crises. Al-Eidani also addressed and denied rumors linking him to the fugitive Ahmad Shaya.

Shaya was the main suspect in the 2021 murder of a director from the South Korean company Daewoo, which was engaged in the Al-Faw Port project in Basra.

In an interview with journalist Batool Al-Hassan, conducted at the Rafidain Dialogue Forum in Baghdad and covered by 964media, Al-Eidani emphasized Basra’s crucial role in maintaining Iraq’s unity. He stated, “Separating Basra from Iraq would undermine the very essence of Iraq,” underscoring the province’s historical and cultural importance as “the mother of all Iraqis.”

Al-Eidani questioned the logic behind creating more regions amid ongoing national crises, pointing out that Iraq’s constitution already recognizes the special status of the Kurdistan Region and supports the achievement of the country’s goals through decentralization, without the need to establish new regions.

He advocated for equitable distribution of rights and resources among Basra, Kurdistan, and other provinces to ensure fairness for all citizens. “Basra has all the components needed for revitalization,” Al-Eidani remarked, calling for the development of a unique Iraqi model of federalism and reconstruction that preserves national unity and citizen dignity.

Al-Eidani’s remarks contribute to the wider discussion on federalism, regional autonomy, and resource allocation in Iraq, alongside the challenges of addressing political allegations while promoting equitable development across the country.

He suggested that questions regarding his contributions to Basra should be directed at its residents, highlighting infrastructure improvements that rival those of some Gulf nations.

Regarding the controversy over Ahmad Shaya’s escape, Al-Eidani clarified that the matter has been ‘blown out of proportion’ and does not involve him personally. Al-Eidani also dismissed rumors of friction with the Coordination Framework forces, attributing previous disputes to electoral competition. He emphasized the current harmony between him and the Framework, a coalition of Shia groups that forms the core of Iraq’s governing coalition. Al-Eidani’s reelection earlier this year was fiercely contested within the Shia Coordination Framework.

Rejecting suggestions of support from the Sadrist bloc, which exited the Iraqi political scene in 2022, Al-Eidani stated that his coalition, the Design, competed independently in the 2021 elections, securing more votes than the Sadrists and establishing themselves as competitors, not followers.

Discussing his foreign relations, Al-Eidani highlighted his amicable ties with both Iran and the Gulf states, asserting his Iraqi identity and the significance of maintaining balanced, beneficial relationships for Iraq. He portrayed his governorship as influential both locally and regionally, aspiring to position Basra as a focal point for solutions amid regional crises and advocating for friendly relations with neighboring countries like Kuwait, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.