Kurdish and Sunni Arab officials expressed deep reservations on Wednesday about the draft version of a national oil law and related legislation, misgivings that could derail one of the benchmark measures of progress in Iraq laid down by President Bush.
The draft law, which establishes a framework for the distribution of oil revenues, was approved by the Iraqi cabinet in late February after months of negotiations. The White House was hoping for quick passage to lay the groundwork for a political settlement among the country’s ethnic and sectarian factions. But the new Kurdish concerns have created doubts about the bill even before Parliament is to pick it up for debate.
The issue comes at a delicate moment for Mr. Bush, who on Wednesday began negotiations with Congressional Democrats over a new war-spending measure.
The above is from Edward Wong and Sheryl Gay Stolberg's "Iraqi Blocs Opposed to Draft Oil Bill" in this morning's New York Times. There appears to have been a printing error. The second sentence should read: "The draft law, which establishes a framework for the distribution of oil revenues out of the country and out of the hands of the Iraqi people, was approved by the Iraqi cabinet in late February after months of negotiations." On the same topic, Martha notes Joshua Partlow's "Draft Oil Measure Sent to Parliament" (Washington Post):
"The Kurds will not accept the law to be put before the parliament as a first part and a second part -- it needs to be a package," Othman said. "The whole problem is because this law was made in a hurry, and the Americans were rushing everyone to do it. The details haven't been discussed, that's why there's no agreement."
Mehdi Hafedh, a parliament member and former planning minister, said he believed that the Kurdish opposition was determined but that eventually a compromise solution would be reached. "I think that the draft in principle can be a good basis for discussion," he said.
Ian Austen's "Iraq Reconstruction Is Doomed, Ex-Chief of Global Fund Says" (New York Times) revolves around Michael Bell's observations and, strangely, doesn't open with Bell's belief that too much emphasis has been placed on privatization:
Reconstruction efforts in Iraq are largely doomed to failure, the former chairman of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq said Tuesday in an interview.
"Reconstruction is difficult enough in a relatively pacific environment," said Michael Bell, a retired Canadian diplomat whose two-year term as chairman ended in March. "In this environment it is almost impossible, if not impossible. Over all, the picture is dire, dire."
His assessment followed a report by inspectors from a United States federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, that seven projects the United States had declared successes were no longer operating.
The United States has contributed to the fund, but the fund has mostly been supplied by the European Commission with contributions from Japan and Canada. It is operated by the World Bank and the United Nations.
Gregory Levey's "Northern exposure: American soldiers are fleeing the Iraq war for Canada -- and U.S. officials may be on their trail. North of the border is no longer the safe haven it was during the Vietnam era" (Salon) breaks the American media silence on a topic familiar to community members:.
One morning in late February, Canadian police arrived at a house in the small town of Nelson, British Columbia, and arrested Kyle Snyder, a U.S. soldier who had gone AWOL from the Army. Snyder, a former combat engineer who left the United States in April 2005 to avoid deployment for a second tour in Iraq, was detained for several hours but never charged with a crime. It remains unclear why he was arrested.
The local police said they were told to detain Snyder by the Canadian Border Services Agency but acknowledged that the immigration agency was not their "original source" for information on Snyder. In fact, Snyder was released after a Canadian immigration official contacted the local police and informed them there was no basis for Snyder's detention. After he was back home, Snyder said he was told by Josie Perry, the Canadian immigration official who ordered his release, that his arrest had come at the behest of officials from the U.S. Army.
A few weeks later, in Toronto, three men wearing trench coats knocked at the home of Winnie Ng, a Canadian resident who harbored an American soldier named Joshua Key. Key, who'd also been a combat engineer, went AWOL from the Army in 2003 after serving in Iraq. According to Ng, one of the men announced they were Toronto police officers and told her they wanted to speak to Key, though Ng was suspicious about their identities. One of the three was in fact a local police officer, but according to a local news report, a spokesperson for the Toronto police department acknowledged that at least one of the other two men was an official from the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Command, or CID.
The incidents have sparked allegations that Canadian law enforcement has been collaborating with U.S. officials to help track down American soldiers who have fled to Canada. Some critics, including a left-leaning member of Parliament who represents Nelson, say they believe it is a campaign of intimidation. "Our concern is that there could be other Kyle Snyders in Canada," Alex Atamanenko, the parliamentarian, said following Snyder's arrest on Feb. 23. "Are there those that are being apprehended now?" In a formal letter of complaint to the Conservative Party Cabinet ministers responsible for public safety and immigration, Atamanenko noted that Snyder was apprehended without a search warrant or permission to enter the residence. "Has Canada ever raised official objection to the U.S. about the operation of U.S. police, security, intelligence or military officials in Canada?" Atamanenko asked, adding, "It is important for Canadian citizens and visitors to our country to know that our Canadian sovereignty is respected."
We'll go into this more in the next entry (which will be longer, I'm throwing this together quickly). Read Elaine's "Kevin Zeese, Willie & Annie Nelson." The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
the new york times
the washington post