Historical Trend Analysis and Future of Federalism in Iraq

Document Type : Original Article


1 M.A. in International Relations, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

2 Professor of Political Science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

3 Assistant Professor of Geography, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran


From the beginning of its formation as an independent geographical unit under the monarchy to the current federalism system of government the political process in contemporary Iraq has been influenced by external and internal factors, and instability has always overshadowed this country and what is now apparent in modern Iraq is that still the new political system remains unstable. Iraq, recognized as one of the legacy states of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the outcome of the post-World War I conquest, since its inception, violence and logistical strife has continued with the fall of the Ba'athist regime and the establishment of a federal system. In fact, federalism in Iraq is the heir to a tumultuous history, fragmented society, ethnic-sectarian sociological divisions, concentration of power by a minority of communities, the status of Kirkuk and other contested areas, forcible Arabization and emigration from the former systems and many problems are remained unresolved. With such a situation and background, it is difficult to imagine Iraq free of violence and conflict. In fact, what has happened since the fall of Saddam in Iraq has been the failure of the new political system to repair the existing sociological gaps in Iraqi society, to provide security and public services, and to solve some of the former problems. Regarding that countries are in a form of interaction, the unstable situation in Iraq can also affect the other countries of the region, so in order to explain the subject under study, it seems necessary to conduct this research.
This research investigates the future of Iraq's federalism system for the horizon of 2030, based on historical trend analysis that relying on the factors which influence the situation in this country. At first, the areas of influence in the field of Iraqi federalism and its presentation to the elites were determined by the list of variables of each constituency, followed by a review of the opinions of the elite group and then are verified. Also, based on the influential factors in the situation of the country, the data were collected using Delphi method and finally, by entering the variables into the Micmac software, relevant analysis was presented and the target, independent, risk variables, etc. were identified and key proponents were identified. They were classified according to the situation in Iraq. Then, by adapting propellants, details of effective parameters in probable scenarios were formulated, and challenge and potential analysis of each domain was performed. And while analyzing the hypotheses, the proposals of each domain were also expressed.
Result and Discussion
Accordingly, three scenarios are presented: desirable scenario (considering Iraq in true federalism with non-centralization and balanced distribution of wealth and power), optimistic scenario (reminiscent of its current state and continuing the current political system shaky and unstable) and crisis scenario (on the one hand, they represent the collapse of Iraq and, in other words, the rise of the demands for independence and the return of the authoritarian political system).
Because the nature of the government in Iraq has been at odds with the multicultural nature of its society since the beginning of its political life, and because of its centenary history, and issues such as the insurgency, the coup, the revolution, the civil war, and there has always been a shadow of strife and strife, producing a fragile structure, Iraq has been a bankrupt country since the fall of the Ba'athist regime, with few signs of improving the political process. Based on the variables and discussions around the subject given the circumstances in Iraq, and in answer to the research questions it can be said that two scenarios of optimism and crisis in the horizon set for Iraqi federalism are likely.


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Volume 17, Issue 61
April 2021
Pages 84-115
  • Receive Date: 24 August 2019
  • Revise Date: 16 January 2020
  • Accept Date: 29 February 2020
  • First Publish Date: 21 March 2021