WASHINGTON – Implicitly criticizing the Bush administration’s reliance on the Iraqi central government to unify the country, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly endorsed the decentralization of Iraq into semi-autonomous regions.
The nonbinding measure sponsored by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. – which supports a so-called “federal system” that would divide Iraq into sectarian-dominated regions – won unusually broad bipartisan support, passing 75-23.
“Slowly but surely we’re building a consensus in the Congress around a way forward in Iraq,” Biden said.
After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., cast it as an indictment of President Bush’s war strategy, although the measure will not compel the administration to do anything differently.
Biden’s proposal, which he outlined a year and a half ago, was once dismissed by the Bush administration and many on Capitol Hill as an unworkable and irresponsible prescription for breaking apart Iraq.
But as the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stumbled in its efforts to unify the country’s warring religious and ethnic communities, the idea of a decentralized country divided among Kurds, Sunni and Shiites has taken on new currency.