Iraqi MP says time not ‘suitable’ to announce Basra as federal region

Kurdistan so far is the only federal, semi-autonomous region in Iraq

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An Iraqi lawmaker said on Saturday that the time is not “suitable” to declare the southern province of Basra as a federal region, days after the launch of campaign from governorate officials to give the region greater autonomy from Baghdad.

Tawfeeq al-Kaabi urged the central government in Baghdad to give more attention to the oil-rich province, saying Basra should be announced as the conflict-stricken country’s “economic capital” in an interview with local channel al-Sumaria News.

Kaabi also described the country’s economy as dependent on Basra’s oil.

He added: “The current time is not suitable to announce a federal region in Basra since we are in a fierce battle against the gang militia of the Islamic State,” referring to the militants who control much of northwestern Iraq.

His statement comes after ex-MP judge and former Basra governor Wael Abdulatif announced on Thursday a campaign to promote Basra as a federal region.

Kurdistan so far is the only federal, semi-autonomous region in Iraq. However, there were previous failed attempts to make the Sunni province of Anbar a federal region.

Opponents of federalization mull such moves as the first steps towards dividing Iraq into smaller states.

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