Sectarian Fighting Overshadows Oil Law Debate in Iraq

Published by Adam Wolfe, PINR The power and interests news report, May 23, 2007.

Iraq’s national oil law has been touted as a major step toward the political reconciliation of the country’s major sects. The U.S. military surge in Baghdad is, in part, designed to provide the sectarian-defined political groups breathing room to pass this and other measures that would give every group a greater stake in the political and economic future of a unified Iraq. Yet, as negotiations over the oil law drag on, and grow increasingly bitter, such reconciliation seems less and less likely.

It now appears impossible for Iraq’s parliament to pass the national oil law by the government-imposed deadline of May 31, 2007. The immediate cost of this failure will be economic — while many of the Western majors would not invest in Iraq due to the remaining security risks, Eastern and smaller oil firms appear willing if the political risks were first removed through legislation.

However, the long-term damage done by the failure to reach a consensus on the oil law will be a hardening of the sectarian fractures in Iraq’s political landscape … (full text).

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