Iraqi Leaders Announce Agreement on Key Legislative Issues

Five of Iraq’s top leaders, including Prime Minister Maliki and representing Shia, Sunni and Kurdish interests, appeared today on Iraqi television and announced that they had reached agreement on several of the key legislative impasses that have stymied Iraq’s political progress:

Iraqi officials said the five leaders had agreed on draft legislation that would ease curbs on former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party joining the civil service and military.
Consensus was also reached on a law governing provincial powers as well as setting up a mechanism to release some detainees held without charge, a key demand of Sunni Arabs since the majority being held are Sunnis.
The laws need to be passed by Iraq’s fractious parliament, which has yet to receive any of the drafts.
Yasin Majid, a media adviser to Maliki, told Reuters the leaders also endorsed a draft oil law, which has already been agreed by the cabinet but has not yet gone to parliament.
But a statement from Talabani’s office said more discussions were needed on the draft oil law and constitutional reforms. Committees had also been formed to try to ensure a “balance” of Shi’ites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds in government.

It remains to be seen whether Iraq’s Parliament will go along with these agreements, whether a final oil bill can be approved, and whether such political progress will have a dramatic impact on the level of violence in Iraq. It is easy to fear that the current compromises are too little, and much too late. Realistically, though, the American military presence will continue through 2008. So if this really is a breakthrough, there should be time enough for its effects to be seen.
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