Iraqis resist U.S. pressure to enact oil law
Foreign investment and Shiite control are the primary concerns. A White House deadline for passage is in doubt.
BAGHDAD — It has not even reached parliament, but the oil law that U.S. officials call vital to ending Iraq's civil war is in serious trouble among Iraqi lawmakers, many of whom see it as a sloppy document rushed forward to satisfy Washington's clock.Senator Chuck Hagel said time is running out today.
Opposition ranges from vehement to measured, but two things are clear: The May deadline that the White House had been banking on is in doubt. And even if the law is passed, it fails to resolve key issues, including how to divide Iraq's oil revenue among its Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni regions, and how much foreign investment to allow. Those questions would be put off for future debates.
The problems of the oil bill bode poorly for the other so-called benchmarks that the Bush administration has been pressuring Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government to meet. Those include provincial elections, reversing a prohibition against former Baath Party members holding government and military positions and revision of Iraq's constitution.
Republican leaders in Washington have warned administration officials that if the Iraqi government fails to meet those benchmarks by the end of the summer, remaining congressional support for Bush's Iraq policies could crumble. Their impatience was underscored Wednesday by Vice President Dick Cheney during a visit here.
Today, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said, “The 11 House Republicans who went to see him speak for more than just 11 House Republicans. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.” Hagel said that president “may find himself standing alone sometime this fall,” noting that several conservatives are beginning to back “trap doors and exit signs” to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.Meanwhile Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to have a new exit strategy, blame the Iraqis.
Republican senator slams Iraqi government
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate on Sunday expressed frustration with the Iraqi government, saying Republicans were "overwhelmingly disappointed" with the lack of political progress.Now if the Iraqis really do want the US to leave they must know they are doing all the right things to make that happen. All they have to do is accomplish nothing and take their two month summer vacation. By September it will be the Republicans screaming for withdrawal.
"The Iraqi government is a huge disappointment," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN'S Late Edition on Sunday.
"So far, they've not been able do anything they promised on the political side," the Kentucky Republican said, citing the Iraqis' failure to pass a new oil revenue bill, hold local elections and dismantle the former Baath Party of Saddam Hussein. "It's a growing frustration."
"Republicans overwhelmingly feel disappointed about the Iraqi government," he added.
Citing media reports, McConnell said some lawmakers in Iraq's parliament wanted a vote to ask the United States to leave.
"I want to assure you, if they vote to ask us to leave, we'll be glad to comply with their request," he said.
And maybe the Bush administration even sees the writing on the wall through the wall of the bubble they inhabit.
U.S., Iran talks to focus on Iraqi security
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Iran said on Sunday they would meet in Baghdad in the next few weeks to discuss security in Iraq, one of the few face-to-face meetings for the two governments in more than two decades.
Iran, which has not had diplomatic relations with the United States since 1980, first announced the talks on Sunday, and White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said later the meeting in Baghdad in the next few weeks would be to discuss Tehran taking a "productive role" in Iraq's security.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will represent the United States, which has accused Iran of backing Shi'ite militia in Iraq and seeking an atomic bomb. Tehran denies both charges.