Iraq’s Abadi champions decentralisation against ‘disunity’

Haider al-Abadi and Rex Tillerson opened the global anti-ISIS coalition meeting in Washington DC, 23 March 2017, (c) AP

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in a meeting in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, championed decentralisation as the embracing of the country’s diversity.

Speaking at the 68-member meeting of the global ant-Islamic State (ISIS) coalition, Abadi stated, “Decentralisation strengthens Iraq, and we provide more powers, more authorities. We are committed to that and we cannot ever go back on that, just as we launched our major project to stabilise and to return major, essential services through the liberation and through also having major committees in each governorate that work with the governors to implements these projects,” Rudaw reported.

The prime minister added that decentralisation did not mean disunity, a comment thought to refer to the Kurdistan region’s demand for secession.

Abadi cited the joint operation against the jihadist group in Mosul and other areas by the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi troops as a successful example of cooperation.

“Today, Iraqis are fighting side by side with the Peshmergas, not against each other, but together against the terrorism of Daesh. This is not a matter of interests, it is the relationship between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga has been sound and excellent, and there is a great deal of cooperation and understanding.”

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials have been more vociferous recently in their demands for complete independence from Baghdad, claiming that federalism has not worked in Iraq.

As the military operations to capture IS strongholds in Syria and Iraq near an end, discussions on the post-IS political future of both countries, which have sizeable Kurdish populations, are also coming to the fore in discussions.