First Published: 2004-12-06

 
Iraqi Shiites lay down basis for autonomous region
 

Participants agree to set up regional council for their five provinces to stimulate economy of their neglected region.

 

Middle East Online

Babel, Qadissiyah, Muthanna, Najaf and Karbala are the five provinces

NAJAF, Iraq - About 600 leaders from central Iraq's Shiite Muslim provinces announced plans to begin setting up their own autonomous region, following a meeting on Monday in the holy city of Najaf.

Representatives agreed to set up a security committee for their five provinces and a regional council to stimulate the economy of their neglected region.

Iraq's provisional constitution recognises the federal nature of Iraq, most of whose Kurdish population lives in three northern provinces with a large degree of autonomy.

Participants of the Najaf meeting underlined the importance of holding elections on January 30, and backed Shiite leaders' rejection of largely Sunni calls to delay the vote.

Shiites make up about 60 percent of the Iraqi population but were oppressed under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, which favoured the minority Sunnis.

The meeting opened with an appeal from the governor of Najaf province, Adnan al-Zorfi, for a regional gathering of presidents of provincial capitals with an executive council made up of governors and provincial administration leaders.

He also called for a consultative council with greater powers than the existing provincial councils that would draw up unified political, economic and security policies.

"We must turn ourselves into a regional unit in the context of a federal Iraq," said Ukail al-Khozai, deputy governor of Karbala, another Shiite holy city.

The congress involves the provinces of Babel, Qadissiyah and Muthanna as well as Najaf and Karbala.

The idea of forming a Shiite autonomous region has been floated for months, but this was the first time that the region's leaders met to draw up concrete measures.

 

Libya jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

Images emerge of Manchester bomber as runners defy threat

Iran leader launches fierce attack on ‘milking cow’ Saudis

Jordan gearing up for another Ramadan with refugees

Syria girls escape war with Snow White

Egypt’s left-wing parties start searching for Sisi competitor

US urged to keep track of its Iraq arms supply

Qatar risks US sanctions over support for Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood

US-Turkish relations go from bad to worse

Egypt hits jihadists as IS claims deadly attack on Christians

Britain arrests two more in Manchester attack probe

Turkey charges opposition newspaper staff

Death toll in Tripoli clashes reaches 52

Hundreds of migrants rescued in major operation off Libya

Palestinians end mass hunger strike in Israel jails

Egypt Christians bury victims with tears, anger

Ramadan in Libya: little cash, much violence

UN braces for up to 200,000 Iraqis to flee Mosul

Iraq forces launch broad attack on IS holdouts in Mosul

Civilians flee IS-held Syria cities after deadly strikes

At least 28 dead in Tripoli clashes

UN says nations bombing IS must protect civilians

26 killed in attack on Egypt Christians

Turkey identifies 'intelligence weaknesses' before coup attempt

Tunisia opens trial over 2015 beach massacre

Syria army takes control of key road

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester