"Iraq's leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to achieve reconciliation - to share oil revenues among all of Iraq's citizens " George Bush State of the Union speech 24th January 2007
An Iraqi cabinet-level committee proposed a draft law on January 19th that would allow the national government in Iraq to control oil revenues.
Negotiations have taken years and most Kurds and Shiites are happy to retain control as it exists now. Sunni Arabs, bith in the North and in the South andf West who do not dominate the oil-rich regions of the country, insist on central oversight.
The US also want the introduction of foreign involvement with (mainly US ) oilcos having very long term (25 years plus) Profit Sharing Agreements - although the status of contracts made prior to the invasion with the regime of Hussein by (mainly non-US) oilcos remains unclear and will probably strongly contested.
Recent debate has centered on the establishment of a federal committee, called the Federal Oil and Gas Council, to review oil contracts. Kurds did not want to give the committee the power to "approve" contracts, so the draft law as it stands instead allows regions to initiate and guide the process of awarding oil contracts and gives the committee the power to review and reject contracts.
This draft has now been submitted to Iraq's cabinet on 18th February and is said to outline the development and distribution of oil in the country, according to two members (Hussain al-Shahristani, the current oil minister (ex nuclear scientist, imprisoned by Saddam and member of Fadhila or Virtue Party - which controls Basra), and Thamir Ghadban, a former oil minister) of a negotiating committee tasked with developing the resolution.
While the two committee members did not reveal details of the draft law, a senior Kurdish official has suggested that a compromise had been made to appease the northern Kurds. If the cabinet members approve the proposed law, it will then go to the Iraqi Parliament for ratification. Typically, (the NYT says) if Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish political leaders have privately backed a measure, Parliament almost always gives its approval.
Meanwhile the building of the US Embassy continues ..
"An army of more than 3500 diplomatic and support staff will have their own sports centre, beauty parlour and swimming pool. Each of the six residential blocks will contain more than 600 apartments.Elsewhere whilst perhaps no-one is watching ...
The prime 25-hectare site was a steal — it was a gift from the Iraqi Government. And if the five-metre-thick perimeter walls don't keep the locals at bay, then the built-in surface-to-air missile station should."
"The commander of Russia's strategic missile force says Russia is capable of targeting U.S. missile defense sites if they are built in the Czech Republic and Poland.
General Nikolai Solovtsov (see pic) warned on Monday that Russia has the ability to resume building intermediate and short-range missiles if the Kremlin drops out of an arms treaty with the United States."
VOA 19th February