Maysan Governorate

Maysan Governorate
Arabic: محافظة ميسان
Location of Maysan Governorate
Coordinates: 31°54′N 47°2′E / 31.900°N 47.033°E / 31.900; 47.033Coordinates: 31°54′N 47°2′E / 31.900°N 47.033°E / 31.900; 47.033
Country Iraq
 • GovernorAli Dawai Lazem (Sadrist Movement)
 • Total16,072 km2 (6,205 sq mi)
 • Total1,112,673
HDI (2017)0.643[1]

Maysan Governorate (Arabic: ميسان, romanizedMaysān) is a governorate in southeastern Iraq, bordering Iran. Its administrative centre is the city of Amarah, and it is composed of six districts. Before 1976, it was named Amara Province.


This region was called Messène (Μεσσήνη) by Ancient Greeks (Strabo), Mayšān (ܡܝܫܢ) in Syriac. Mēs̲h̲ān in Middle Persian and Parthian (𐭌𐭉𐭔𐭍 myšn), Mēs̲h̲un in Armenian, Maysān (ميسان) in Arabic, and T’iao-tche (Chaldaea) in the Han sources.[2]


Alexander the Great founded the town of Charax Spasinu in 324 B.C. in the governorate. The town later became the capital of the Characene kingdom. It now exists as the ruins of Naysan.

The area suffered greatly during the Iran–Iraq War, during which it was a major battlefield, and again after the 1991 Iraqi uprising.


Ba'athist era[]

From 1992 to 1994, Saddam Hussein appointed a senior military commander named Kamel Sajid, who had served during the Iran–Iraq War and led special forces missions into Kuwait, during the Gulf War, to become the governor, following a decision to replace all provincial governors with military ones. Under Janabi's administration he reportedly introduced stronger Islamic policies, which coincided with Saddam's faith campaign at the time.

Saddam Hussein's brother-in-law who visited the province commented on Janabi's administration, saying he had built a "mini Islamic state". Janabi ordered the closure of all bars serving alcohol, and built several mosques across the province. He would also collect money for donations to the sick and poor, as well as visit hospitals. Janabi also reprimanded a police officer for allowing his car to cut through traffic, after the officer noticed it was the governor's car. Locals reportedly referred to him as "Abu Omar" in reference to Umayyad Caliph Umar II, viewing Janabi's rule as similar. He also reportedly spared the life of a Shia man who was cooperating with Iran in the province and had turned himself in to Iraqi security forces.

In 1994, Janabi was relieved from his position and sent to work for Saddam in Baghdad instead. Many Ba'athist officials criticized both Saddam and Janabi for their religiousness, and told Saddam that Janabi was a fifth-column element in the regime. However, Saddam dismissed these claims in his favor, and Janabi himself was reportedly loyal to Saddam.


The current governor is Ali Dawai Lazem, a supporter of Muqtada al-Sadr. As of 2013, he is the only provincial governor in Iraq belonging to the Sadrist Movement.[3] Though he is a Shi'a, he is a non-sectarian and has said "It doesn't make a difference if you are Sunni or Shi'ite or Christian. I don't differentiate between anyone." He has been called Iraq's most popular politician.[citation needed]

In 2013, The New York Times praised Dawai's governance, stating that "roads are being paved, new sewage systems installed and residents now enjoy electricity for up to 22 hours a day, far more than in Baghdad."[4]

List of governors[]

Picture Governor Assumed role Party
Kamel Sajit Aziz al-Janabi 1992-1994[5] Iraqi Baath Party
  Riyadh Mahood al-Muhammadawi[6] 2003 Independent
  Adil Mahwadar Radi 2005 Sadrist Movement
Iraqi Minister for Human Rights (6684996257) (cropped).jpg   Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani 2009 State of Law Coalition
  Ali Dawai Lazem 2010[citation needed] Sadrist Movement


Maysan has a Shia Arab and Feyli Kurdish majority and a small population of Mandeaens and Christians. It is covered in the south by many Mesopotamian Marshes, and has traditionally been home to many Marsh Arabs.

In 2007, the unemployment rate was 17%.[7]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1977 372,600—    
1987 487,448+2.72%
1997 637,126+2.71%
2009 922,890+3.14%
2018 1,112,673+2.10%
Source: Citypopulation[8]



  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  2. ^ Streck, M.; Morony, M.. "Maysān." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. , 2012. Reference. 30 March 2012
  3. ^ Jaboori, Rafid (20 April 2013). "Sectarian tensions stalk Iraq elections". BBC News. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  4. ^ Arango, Tim (3 May 2013). "A Sadrist Governor Is a Folk Hero to Iraqis". New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Kamel Sachet and Islamism in Saddam's Security Forces". 24 October 2015.
  6. ^ Cole, Juan. "Marsh Arab Rebellion: Grievance, Mafiasand Militias in Iraq" (PDF). Deepblue. University of Michigan. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Mike, Author at TechBar".
  8. ^ "Population of Governorates".

External links[]