Thursday, May 24, 2007

 

Bi-partisan support for Iraq federalism

I was heartened by the following article about dividing Iraq into three states or provinces that would govern themselves regarding religion and crime-fighting, while a federal government would be in charge of dividing up oil money and other issues involving the entire country.

Biden, GOP's Brownback join to push Iraq federalism
By NICOLE GAUDIANO, News Journal Washington Bureau

Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, who has spent the past year talking about his plan for federalism in Iraq, is working with Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas to put the weight of legislation behind it.

Staff members have spent the past two weeks drafting legislation for the approval of the two, who are both presidential candidates.

The basic language would say that it should be United States policy to help achieve a workable federal system in Iraq and to take steps necessary along with Iraqis and other countries to make federalism workable, according to an aide.

"Senator Brownback and I have talked briefly about this and are working to put words to paper," said Biden, D-Del. "But we're both in agreement that the current strategy in Iraq isn't working, and that federalism is Iraq's best possible future."

A Brownback spokesman could not be reached for comment, but Brownback has previously endorsed the idea of federalism. In a March 27 news release, he said an Iraq with several regions, with Baghdad as a federal capital, represents the best chance for stability.

Biden's plan would give different religious and ethnic groups control of issues that affect their daily lives in three distinct regions of the country and establish a weak central government in charge of borders, the army and foreign policy.

Tony Blinken, staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Biden chairs, said he wasn't sure whether the legislation would be more binding than a "sense of the Senate" or whether either lawmaker would be making any concessions.

While Biden's voting record is considered moderate to liberal, Brownback is conservative, particularly on social issues. Biden advocates a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and Brownback has opposed such a plan.

Republican lawmakers have shown increasing dissatisfaction in recent weeks with the situation in Iraq. A contingent of moderate Republicans, including Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware, met with President Bush on Tuesday to discuss the war's direction.

Contact Nicole Gaudiano at ngaudiano@gns.gannett.com.

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