Iraq represents a highly heterogeneous society with a plethora of ethnic identities, religious denominations, tribal affiliations and spoken languages. The mismanagement of relations between the various social groupings has been the scourge of the country since its inception. A seminar was convened by the Union of Iraqi Writers to discuss the matter of the future of Iraq and the politics that should be envisaged for the country.
Intellectuals, academics and writers deliberated over a number of political systems that would be appropriate for governing a society like Iraq, looking at precedents of other nation-states.
Faleh Abdul Jabbar, a sociologist and researcher at the United States Institute of Peace, asserted that in countries with homogeneous societies (i.e. those that comprise a monolithic group of people with little diversity) can afford to have majority-rule as this is consistent with democratic principles of representation. In Iraq, the picture is much more complicated and the concept of majority-rule would inevitably lead to disputes between the represented and the unrepresented. Jabbar advocates a system whereby local ministerial councils are the ones who form policy and represent local populations.
Another participant was a proponent of having a strong centralised government, similar to the “French Model”. This would entail a central government in Baghdad that would host representatives from across the country, but would enact laws and measures that would be implemented in all corners of the country. This may be considered a proposed solution underpinned by civic nationalism. According to him, this will solve the current chaos that has engulfed Iraqi politics in recent years and would be conducive to development of a stronger Iraqi identity that would overcome the differences within Iraqi society.
A wide spectrum of ideas were discussed at the seminar and participants expressed differing opinions on the most successful system for Iraq. Nevertheless, the primary aim and vision for all those attending was the same: the development of a society that avoids racism, tribalism and sectarianism, and the fostering of a cohesive and harmonised political system.
Iraq has been more or less unified in the past few months in the fight to liberate the country from ISIS. A variety of political and military groups have joined forces to combat the terrorist group and expel them from the country. Nevertheless, issues such as Kurdish separatism and long-standing tensions between tribes and religious and ethnic denominations since the inception of Iraq must be tackled.