Draft Oil Measure Sent to Parliament
Thursday, May 3, 2007
BAGHDAD, May 2 -- Iraq's oil minister said the country's draft oil law was submitted to parliament on Wednesday, setting up potentially bitter negotiations over the creation of a framework for managing the country's vast petroleum supplies and distributing oil revenue.
Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told reporters in Saudi Arabia that he believed the legislation would be passed by the end of the month. But some Iraqi parliament members expect a more protracted struggle, as Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds vie for shares of revenue from the world's third-largest oil reserves.
The prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, told Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that Kurds would not accept the oil law unless a piece of companion legislation, and accompanying annexes detailing revenue distribution, were amended. The changes would allow the Kurds greater concessions in developing oil fields in their territory, according to Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish legislator. Kurds are unhappy with the percentage of underground oil resources that would be controlled by the Iraqi National Oil Company, effectively putting the resources under national, rather than regional, jurisdiction.
"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.
On Wednesday, three American soldiers were killed and two others were wounded by roadside bombs in Baghdad. In one incident, a bomb struck a patrol in southern Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding two others, the U.S. military said. In another, a soldier died in western Baghdad after a bomb blew up under her vehicle.
The U.S. military said an additional 3,700 soldiers had arrived in Iraq, part of the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division. It is the fourth of five brigades to arrive as part of President Bush's "surge," bringing the number of new troops in and around Baghdad to about 17,000. A total of 28,000 service personnel are scheduled to come to Iraq by June, U.S. military officials said.
Also Wednesday, a car bomb exploded in the vast Shiite enclave of Sadr City, killing 10 people and wounding 35 others, the Reuters news agency reported. And a roadside bomb hit a minibus near Mahmudiyah, killing 11 people, said Capt. Muthanna Ahmad of the Babil police.
For the second day, U.S. officials said they could not confirm whether al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri was dead. Iraqi officials reported on Tuesday that Masri had died in fighting north of Baghdad.
Special correspondent Waleed Saffar contributed to this report.