News out of Iraq

Word is out that a package of laws has passed the Iraqi Parliament.

The three laws are the 2008 budget, a law outlining the scope of provincial powers — a crucial aspect of Iraq’s self-definition as a federal state — and an amnesty that will cover thousands of the detainees held in Iraqi jails. They were put to a vote as a single package.

The budget is a bone to the Kurds, the elections to the Shia, and the amnesty to the Sunni.

But don’t jump for joy and declare victory just yet:

Embedded in each of the measures, however, are the same problems that created the controversy in the first place. For instance, on the budget, the debate over the size of the Kurdish share has merely been deferred for a year. The 17 percent agreement is only for this year; next year it will be renegotiated, and there is a strong push to reduce the Kurds’ share.

On the provincial powers law, which includes a requirement that elections for the provincial councils be held in the fall, there are serious problems with the commissions that set up and administer the elections both at the national and provincial levels, raising questions about whether the votes will be viewed as fair or will merely deepen divisions among the sects. Such worries could end up delaying the elections.

Left out of the political bargain are the newly formed Awakening Councils, which are predominantly Sunni and in many cases represent powerful tribes. Allied with the United States, they have taken the lead in fighting extremist Sunni groups. Now their leaders are clambering for a place at the table. They are outraged that the Iraqi Islamic Party, which is Sunni but has limited grass-roots support, dominates the provincial council in Anbar.

Not to mention that the Federal Gov’t is notoriously unable to actually enforce these laws.

Worse is that violence is back on the up tick, forcing Sec. Gates to go on board with Gen. Petraeus temporarily as against Adm. Fallon and Gen. Casey in calling for a slowdown (or “pause”) of troop reductions.  There is growing resentment between the Anbar Tribal Leaders and the Sunni Parliamentary establishment.  Watch for that to develop.

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Published in: on February 13, 2008 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  

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