Back in 2008 Basra made its first attempt at autonomy, which failed. That started in November 2008 when parliamentarian Wail Abdul Latif gave the Election Commission a petition with 34,800 signatures, 2% of the governorate’s voting population, requesting a referendum on the issue. Latif and his supporters than had one month to collect 139,200 signatures, 10% of the province’s voters to hold the actual election. Latif had been proposing turning Basra into a region since 2005 when he attempted to place it in the new constitution. Even before that, people of Basra have been talking about autonomy for decades because they feel like the central government neglects them even though they produce the majority of the country’s wealth through its oil fields. In January 2009 the Election Commission said that Latif had failed to come up with the necessary signatures on the second petition. There was simply not enough support for the drive. A poll by the government run National Media Center for example, found that 94% of those questioned in Basra were against the idea. This latest attempt may go the same way as the 2008 attempt since there has been no public outcry for autonomy.
Aswat al-Iraq, “Basra to demand turning into region – source,” 9/5/10