Saturday, June 04, 2005

France, then Holland, then Moqtada 

The shock-waves of the EU troubles reach the Tigris and the Euphrates:
Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Iraqis to emulate the European Union and reject federalism, which he said would divide the country. Speaking on behalf of Sadr, Sheikh Salah al-Ubaidi told Muslim faithful in Kufa, south of Baghdad, that in Europe: "You can find a unified constitution under way, a unified currency and a united continental market despite the fact that they are different nations."
As an old Polish saying goes, he knows that a bell's tolling, but not in which church. Federalism in Europe and federalism in Iraq are two different things. In Europe, citizens of two nation-states, France and Holland, have rejected a process that would result in further erosion of sovereignty and greater integration with the rest of the continent. In Iraq, a unitary state, there is talk of introducing a federal system whereby Sunnis, Shia and Kurds would each enjoy considerable autonomy in their own areas, while still being bound together as one political unit under a central government. Europeans are rejecting a certain vision of the EU for the same reason that many in Iraq are increasingly finding federalism an attractive arrangement - out of the desire to devolve some power from the centre for the benefit of the regions.

One day Moqtada might understand these things and become a powerful and popular politician. So far, however, he still has to rely on a few thousand thugs with guns.


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