stated that the Iraqi political scene is currently governed by three major issues: the oil and gas law, the project of the “new” Maliki cabinet and the controversy regarding the Speaker of the parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani.
As it appears, however, the deep conflicts separating the major political coalitions in the country are preventing the achievement of serious advances on any of the three fronts.
The oil and gas law is expected to be presented to the parliament in the next few days, if the minimum number of deputies is achieved in order to fulfill the quorum for legislative sessions.
Currently, the boycott of parliamentary sessions by the Sadrist and Accord blocs is practically preventing the House of Representatives from convening to discuss the oil and gas law and other legislative initiatives.
claimed, quoting an Iraqi deputy, that over 25 parliamentary commissions have been paralyzed as a result of the Sadrist and Sunni boycott, which reflects the deep political crisis that is ongoing in Iraq.
Iraqi and Arab papers relayed conflicting reports regarding the fate of the oil and gas law. Az-Zaman expected the law proposal to be presented to the parliament today, and asserted that it will be faced with “a torrent of opposition,” especially from the Sadrists and the Accord blocs, which have publicly voiced their opposition to the law in its current form
, on the other hand, alleged that no discussion of the law proposal will be possible under the current conditions especially that the Kurdish leadership has voiced concerns over the draft in its amended form. The pan-Arab paper said that the law, in addition to other legislative projects, will be postponed until next September, when the new legislative session is scheduled to be held.
Pan-Arab, Saudi-financed al-Sharq al-Awsat
spoke to a “high level Iraqi official” about the oil law; the official stated that the recent amendments to the draft are “purely stylistic” and do not affect the substance of the project. The official expressed his astonishment that the law is facing stiff opposition from groupings (namely the Sadrists and the Accord front) who had approved the law in the council of ministers last February.
The official also admitted that Iraq is undergoing “a political and governmental crisis due to the absence of basic services,” and said that the only way out of the current situation is through radical reforms to the shape of the cabinet.
The official was referring to a project that has been recently floated by Maliki and pro-government parties that calls for the creation of a smaller cabinet (reducing the number of ministers from 37 to 20) headed by Maliki and joining parties that are supportive of the government, as opposed to the current situation where divergent political forces cohabit in the council of ministers.
presented a rather pessimistic analysis of the new Maliki initiative, stating that “the widening conflicts between political blocs ... will certainly obstruct the achievement of a broad ministerial amendment.”
On a related front, Az-Zaman
spoke – in vague terms – of “intense intitiatives” being effectuated to achieve a certain measure of harmony between Iraqi parties, in order to solve some of the major contentious issues, such as the oil law and the distribution of ministerial positions. Az-Zaman
pointed out that the intensification of political “initiatives” is closely linked to the approaching deadline set for the Iraqi government by the US to gauge the success of “Operation Imposing Order” and the “new American strategy” in Iraq.
The political tension in Iraq is not confined to conflicts between political groups, but is also caused by infightings within
the major blocs. Al-Jazeera and Az-Zaman
reported today that the Sunni “Accord” front is being splintered by quarrels on the leadership level. In recent days, the Iraqi Accord Front voted Iyad al-Samarra’i to chair the bloc, replacing 'Adnan al-Dulaimi, the fiery Sunni politician, who headed the coalition since its inception.
Al-Jazeera quoted al-Dulaimi as saying that he does not acknowledge al-Samarra’i’s accession and still considers himself as the legitimate leader of the bloc. The Iraqi Accord Front is mainly composed of the Islamic Party (to which al-Samarra’i belongs), the Conference of the People of Iraq (al-Dulaimi’s party) and the Council of National Dialogue.