Issues in Iraq 

The Problem
To understand how a Nineveh Province/Governate would benefit minorities in Iraq, we have to first understand how Iraq is governed. Iraq is a federal democracy, which means it is made up multiple Governates, which come together to govern the whole of Iraq. This is very similar to our system of united States. Iraq’s legislative arm is made up of two bodies, a Council of Representatives, and a Federation Council. The Council of Representatives is apportioned by population (1 representative per 100,000 people). This sets the stage for a massive body currently made up of 325 representatives, much like our House of Representatives. This makes it nearly impossible for minorities to have any real representation due to their small numbers. As consolation for the minorities, 7 seats were set aside for their communities, representing 2% of the Council, though not enough to have any real influence on any bloc within the government or have the clout to make certain demands for their constituents.

slide_311738_2774751_free

The minority’s only strategic benefit is the fact that they generally reside in a contiguous region in the Nineveh Plains to the North. This brings us to Iraq’s second legislative arm, the Federation Council. The Federation Council is much like the US Senate. Each Governate sends a fixed number of representatives to the Federation Council and enacts legislation in conjunction with the Council of Representatives. Iraq is currently made up of 18 Governates. Ethnic minorities make up 90% of the population in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains region, where the Nineveh Governate is being suggested. Unfortunately, the local minority population is currently lumped into a massive Governate larger than the State of Maryland, with a population of 3.2+ million. It is the most populous Governate, second only to Baghdad. This means that minorities are easily overlooked when administrative positions within the Governate’s own Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches are filled, and their voting power in the Governate’s localities are diluted. It also becomes more difficult for minorities to petition for funding their schools, infrastructure projects, and cultural institutions that benefit their areas. To make the situation worse for these minorities is the fact that the Kurds freely patrol the Nineveh Plans where the minorities reside, creating a dispute about who actually governs the territory. The Kurds seem to hope to one day annex the area as part of a larger Kurdish Regional Government. Because of this, money that is appropriated to the current Governate in which these minorities lie does not find its way into their areas because the majority-Arab administration does not want that money to benefit the Kurdish forces administering the area.

mapThe Solution
The proposed Nineveh Governate would be as independent as any other of Iraq’s 18 Governates and would be; but, because of its geographic boundaries, would have a minority population of 90%, allowing its residents all the benefits associated with self-determination in the organization of their schools, civic structures, and more. More importantly, Iraqi Governates are each allotted an equitable share of the country’s oil wealth, which will be used to fulfill municipal and security needs for the local population that has been lacking in the current structure.

In the broader picture, the proposed Governate would serve as a beacon of hope for minorities who have been sidelined more than any other group in Iraq’s new democracy. The UN High Commission for Refugees noted that 44% of Iraq’s refugees in neighboring Jordan and Syria were christians (who made up 4% of Iraq’s general population before the war). That doesn’t include innumerable internally displaces minorities who fled the ethnic violence in Baghdad and Mosul and moved back to the villages of their parents and grandparents in the Nineveh Plains. Over and over, Iraqi politicians and even religious and civil leaders of these minorities have advocated for minority activity and contribution as part of Iraqi’s democracy. These have been empty words because the facts on the ground do not make this possible. The proposed Nineveh Governate would ensure that Iraqi minorities can be engaged in the civic process as an instrumental component of broader iraqi society, which in turn will give them hope and desire to stay in their native land.