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May 28, 2008

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Chris Baker

The political cartoons are very good, however important pending elections tend to cause political paralysis as one side may assume it's political position will be improved as a result of the election. That's likely the case with the Accordance Front not wanting to join the government yet, and possibly also the Sadrists whose peaceful demonstrations under the law were reported around the world. No doubt the Sadrists noticed that with positive news comes real political power, not the fake type of power seized by arms and intimidation.

Therefore the best thing the government can do now is to pass the law for the provincial elections and not depend on passing any major laws, like the oil law until after those elections are over. At the same time as the provincial elections the provision for a referendum on the Status of Force agreement should be voted on, as the Sadrists and many others are demanding. It must be shown to the Sadrists that they can gain much more working under the law than working outside the law as so many have been doing.

To accommodate that referendum, the UN resolution will probably have to be extended until June 30, 2009, but that's not nearly the big problem Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been making out. The Iraqi army is far from being able to defend itself from even minor aggression from it's neighbors and will probably require US military assistance for at least another year. Talk about sovereignty all you want, I hope most Iraqi's appreciate the Iraqi army is much improved and more confident but not yet where it needs to be.

I would also suggest another national referendum at the time of the provincial elections, and that is to decide whether the Kurdish oil fields should be nationalized and put under the control of the Iraqi government. It would also specify that nationalization means any oil or gas contracts not signed by the government of Iraq shall be declared of no legal force (null and void). Debate sovereignty all you want, but there is nothing better than a national referendum to establish whether the people of Iraq want to claim their sovereignty over all Iraqi oil and gas fields.

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