21 May 2007 - 11:10
  • News Code: 105160

Baghdad - The new draft oil law has sparked heated controversy in Iraqi political circles, with some parliamentarians ruling out the possibility of passing it in its current wording which stipulates that oil revenues should be distributed according to the population of the Iraqi provinces.

"The distribution of Iraq"s oil wealth is a point of dispute that prevents the passing of the bill," MP Bassim Sharif from the Fadhila Islamic Party said.


"Iraq"s production of oil in 2006 was equal to its production in 2002, after the implementation of the UN"s oil-for-food program in the aftermath of the first Gulf War in 1991. However, Iraq is currently suffering from heavy losses from sabotage and oil smuggling," Sharif explained.


"The Iraqi parliament"s approval of the draft oil law, after making necessary amendments, will be a significant breakthrough in the political and economic transformation of Iraq," Sharif added.


MP Harith al-Obeidi from the Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF) said that the amendments must be made to some articles of the Iraqi constitution, according to which the controversial draft oil law was formulated.


"The front calls for giving the federal government more authority than the Iraqi provinces, with particular regard to the exportation of Iraqi oil. All suggestions for giving Iraqi provinces the freedom to import and export oil will ultimately prove erroneous," al-Obeidi indicated.


MP Mahmoud Uthman from the Kurdistan Alliance attributed the delay in the oil bill"s passing to the "obscurity of some sections of the proposed draft law, the most important of which are those concerning oil imports and the mechanism of their distribution."


In response to the IAF"s calls for giving the federal government full authority to export and import Iraqi oil, Uthman said that if put into effect these proposals "will return the country to an era of dictatorship," noting "the Kurdish people suffered a lot from centralization."


Moreover, Uthman claimed that the U.S. administration, represented by former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, had put pressure on the leaders of Iraqi political blocs to speed up the formulation of the draft oil law, which he said "was made to serve U.S. interests."


An oil expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the Iraqi parliament will not approve the draft law in its current form. "The bill is full of loopholes that require further reading and thorough revision," he said.



News Code 105160

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