Major Issues Remain Up in the Air in Iraq

Via the LAT: Iraqi Kurds delay Kirkuk vote

Kurdish lawmakers agreed Wednesday to a six-month delay of a referendum on whether the oil-rich city of Kirkuk should join the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan or remain under Iraqi central government control.

The delay had been expected because of problems in arranging the vote, which was supposed to have been held by the end of the year. A census to determine who would be eligible to vote, for instance, has not yet been done. But by putting off the issue, the lawmakers highlighted what has become a constant in Iraq: the inability of leaders to settle disputes whose resolution is considered key to ending ethnic and sectarian strife.

This is no small issue, as it is quite likely that a substantial, and likely bloody, conflict is going to emerge over control of Kirkuk and its oil.

Meanwhile, other major issues remain unresolved:

Another major issue, the rewriting of the Iraqi Constitution, is also unlikely to be completed by a Dec. 31 deadline. The head of the Iraqi parliament’s constitutional review committee, Humam Hamoodi, said Wednesday that he would request a three-month delay. That would be the fourth time the target date for revision of the document, approved in a referendum in 2005, had been put off as lawmakers haggled over issues such as provincial powers and religious and cultural freedoms.

The delay in the constitutional revision could hinder progress on other issues that the United States has cited as keys to Iraqi national reconciliation. Those include legislation to manage Iraq’s oil industry, and the scheduling of provincial elections to ensure better distribution of power among Shiite Muslims and Sunnis across the country.

It will be interesting to see how these, and similar, issues evolve into 2008. Not only is the real evaluation of the Surge yet to come, but events in Iraq could yet significantly affect the 2008 presidential campaign.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Tlaloc says:

    There’s more than that Steve. The Shia dominated government has explicitly said they plan to move in and disarm allthose Sunni militias we’ve been arming as part of the “awakening” just as soon as the sunnis finish up on AQI.

    Take a guess how well that will go over with the Sunnis.

    Plus of course there is the bombshell of Turkey attacking Kurds in Northern Iraq.

    The surge is scheduled to run out early next year (and the pentagon says it can’t be extended without breaking the military). Consequently I think we can easily predict the final evaluation of the surge: managed to tamp down violence temporarily but did nothing to stop the impending civil war.

    The only question is how bad things will have gotten again by next november.