The solution to the crisis in Iraq is not to break the country up into two or three states, according to a State Department official. The best alternative is to set up a federal system that distributes power to local governments and security forces, allowing for some regional autonomy while keeping the entire country under Baghdad's federal umbrella.
The official, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk, advocated for a "central-regional-provincial" approach to security and governance in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday. In such a system, local citizens would be in charge of securing the regions where they live, with backup from the state (this model apes the U.S. National Guard). The Iraqi Army would "rarely deploy inside cities," staying back to provide overall support and protect national borders.
The Iraqi constitution calls for a system of "functional federalism," but such a system was never truly implemented. The State Department wants Iraq to move in the direction of federalism to help it strike a balance between the independence of Iraq's three main groups — Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds — and the creation and maintenance of a robust, centralized state that can protect itself from outside forces like the current advance of militants belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. "This model of functional federalism is feasible and necessary," McGurk said.