Iraq Baghdad: In a potentially significant development Iraqi MPs have finally made progress in breaking the political impass in Iraq by passing three important laws. The move comes after delays and brinkmanship between rival factions in the Iraqi parliament.
Speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani had earlier complained that the chamber was being paralysed by distrust between the factions in the parliament and a day after the assembly was adjourned amid calls for dissolution.
Three laws were bundled into one package in a move designed to appease each of the main groups and ease the passage of the legislation; which sets a budget, provides limited amnesty for detainees, and defines the relationship between Baghdad and Iraqi local authorities.
Local Authory elections will now be able to be held with teh passing of the legislation.
Each of the three main groups had different interests. The Kurds main concern was to see the budget passed. For Sunni Arabs the amnesty was a priority. Shia Muslimswere concerned to see progress on provincial elections.
US ambassador Ryan Crocker called the passing of the three elements "very significant accomplishments" and Washington will be particularly pleased with the move as these issues were part of the 18 political reconciliation benchmarks set by Washington.
The $48bn state budget is long overdue and should have been passed before the end of last year. The budget is financed mainly through oil revenues.
An estimated 25,000 detainees, held in US and Iraqi prisons,will benefit from the amnesty providing they have not been charged with or convicted of violent crimes.
The move comes after a period of pressure from Washington which has been frustrated by the seeming inability of the Iraqi body politic to capitalise on the political opportunities created by the surge.
There had been concern that, although US troops had succeeded in bringing some control over the violence, aided by the awakening process and by the Shia militia ceasfire, there had been insufficient reconstruction, redevelopment and political effort to help further stabilise the situation.
This again throws the spotlight on the current US primary season where both Obama and Clinton are giving a populist message that they will pull troops out quickly. Interestingly it may be this very message that is pressuring the Iraqi body politic to now make progress. Which is not to say that it would make any sense to actually pull the troops out precipitously of course.
Iraqis must hope that politicians in the US may yet hold their nerve over the Iraq situation because the prospect of the US leaving with some measure of success now appears like a glimmer at the end of what has been a long dark tunnel.