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.