Iraqi Leaders Forge Agreement

Rick Moran
The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has announced a far reaching agreement on draft legislation that would, it is hoped, begin the reconciliation process in Iraq and meet most of the benchmarks set by the US Congress for political progress:

Iraq's top Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.

The agreement by the five leaders was one of the most significant political developments in Iraq for months and was quickly welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands.

But skeptics will be watching for action amid growing frustration in Washington over the political paralysis that has gripped the government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

In the murk and shadows that is Iraqi politics, it is impossible to tell how really significant this deal is. The legislation, dealing with removing obstacles to Sunni employment in government, provincial power sharing, and detainee release, has been around in draft form for months. It is significant that all parties agree that the issues are important and must be addressed. What is unclear is how realistic a chance any of this legislation has of getting through Iraq's moribund parliament.

The oil revenue law was also reaffirmed. It had been agreed to months ago but has yet to be taken up by the Iraqi legislature.

Cynics are arguing that the agreement is little more than window dressing given the proximity to the report by General Petreaus before Congress in less than two weeks. Nevertheless, if nothing else the agreement proves that Iraqi leaders can sit down and recognize the dire straits their country is in and try to do something about it.

The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has announced a far reaching agreement on draft legislation that would, it is hoped, begin the reconciliation process in Iraq and meet most of the benchmarks set by the US Congress for political progress:

Iraq's top Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.

The agreement by the five leaders was one of the most significant political developments in Iraq for months and was quickly welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands.

But skeptics will be watching for action amid growing frustration in Washington over the political paralysis that has gripped the government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

In the murk and shadows that is Iraqi politics, it is impossible to tell how really significant this deal is. The legislation, dealing with removing obstacles to Sunni employment in government, provincial power sharing, and detainee release, has been around in draft form for months. It is significant that all parties agree that the issues are important and must be addressed. What is unclear is how realistic a chance any of this legislation has of getting through Iraq's moribund parliament.

The oil revenue law was also reaffirmed. It had been agreed to months ago but has yet to be taken up by the Iraqi legislature.

Cynics are arguing that the agreement is little more than window dressing given the proximity to the report by General Petreaus before Congress in less than two weeks. Nevertheless, if nothing else the agreement proves that Iraqi leaders can sit down and recognize the dire straits their country is in and try to do something about it.