Monday, February 06, 2006

What can Iraq learn from Spain and Catalonia

Ask any random person in Barcelona what football club they support and they will say Barcelona. Rarely do you hear anyone say they support the other Barcelona primra League side Espanyol. The reason for this is the Barcelona Football club’s crest includes the Catalonia flag and the word Espanyol means Spanish and the crest has a crown. Barcelona football club has always been the symbol of Catalan nationalism. When Franco was in charge of Spain he tried to kill of Catalan identity. The language was banned in public and even calling a kid Jordi was banned as St Jordi was the patron saint of Catalonia. But all this has changed Catalonia nationalism is free and on the rise. Last September the Catalonia parliament passed a bill to declare Catalonia a nation but still part of the spainish state. This was forwarded to the Parliament in Madrid. Luis Rodriguez Zapatero the Spainish Prime ministers government is propped up by regional parties. This gives the Catalans a lot of power in parliament and they are not afraid to use it. The bill that was sent to parliament is likely to pass with some modifications. Although the above measures are supported in the polls. All is not well. From Backseat drivers
Lieutenant General José Mena Aguado, said that the armed forces may have to intervene should the new statute exceed the limits set by the constitution. Mena claimed that the military was empowered under the constitution to do so: "...if those limits were exceeded, which at the moment luckily seems unthinkable, Article 8 of the Constitution — the armed forces, including the army, the navy and the air force, have the mission to guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain and to defend her territorial integrity and the Constitutional order".
The Lieutenant General was immediately put under house arrest as a military leader is prohibited from making a public statements on political opinions. While a military coup is unlikely in an EU country and the constitution doesn't support this it does seems to show an underlining extreme dislike in Spain for the idea of a separate Catalan nation. Nationalism and greed are possibly the 2 most driving forces in the world. These are also the 2 forces involved in the Catalan Spain divide. Spanish people feel like the Lieutenant General feel Spain can not be split. They also want to keep the tax monies rolling in from Barcelona. Catalans see themselves as Catalans as different to the rest of Spain. They also want to see their tax stay within their region. So what can this teach Iraq. Spain is a prosperous and peaceful country relative to Iraq. Yet tensions between different factions dominate politics. Europe has never been more divided yet also it has never been more peaceful. Why? When you do not give a people their own say, their own land, their own independence they will do all in their power to obtain it. When they do have all these things they will do all in their power to enhance it. Catalan nationalism is predominantly non violent because the people are predominantly prosperous. This limits them to peaceful needs. The more you have to lose the less you are willing to do. In Iraq the country is clearly divided into Kurdish Sunni and Shiite areas. These are basically different "tribes". Where as the French, German, Belgium, "tribes" have their own lands and independence the Iraqi "tribes" do not. The oil is in the North and the South not the middle. But greed is not strong enough to keep a country together nationalism is going to break it apart until each "tribe" has its independence. Until they are separate like the EU countries will their greed make them realise that they will work best together. Whether or not each tribes desire for independence can be fulfilled in a federal Iraq is another question. But I think until America realises like Spain that somethings are just not going to stick together forever Iraq will not be peaceful.

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