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Shi'i Separatism in Iraq:
Internet Reverie or Real Constitutional Challenge?





"Shi'i separatism" is often referred to as a threat to Iraq. But how real is that threat today?

This research paper concentrates on how ultra-radical Shi'is since 2004 have used the Internet to proliferate separatist ideas for an Iraqi Shi'i audience. In these circles, visions of a breakaway Shi'i state from Samarra (north of Baghdad) down to the Gulf circulate. But the paper also highlights the relative weakness of this new current. Only on certain conditions directly related to the ongoing constitutional process in Iraq and the federal constitutional design chosen for the new political system in the country does any widening of the separatist agitation among the Shi'is in the country seem probable.

"A very serious piece of research [which] lays out the details of an important but little-examined political movement in the south [of Iraq]"

Juan Cole, professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, U.S.A., author of the weblog Informed Comment.

Full details of publication:
Reidar Visser, "Shi'i Separatism in Iraq: Internet Reverie or Real Constitutional Challenge?" (NUPI Paper no. 686, Oslo: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, August 2005, 18 pages).

FULL TEXT OF PAPER (PDF file, 320 KB, download may take a few minutes)