Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Good News in Iraq

Yes, that's right, I said good news in Iraq. The good news has to do with the new Iraq Oil Plan. you can read about it here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,254798,00.html

For those of you who have not read the Iraq Study Group Report, this is a big step towards Iraqi National Reconciliation. Recommendation #28 of the report states: "Oil revenue sharing. Oil revenue should accrue to the central government and be shared on the basis of population. No formula that gives control from future fields to the regions or gives control of oil fields to the regions is compatible with national reconciliation" (Report: II, B, 2, recommendation 28, pg 65).

Now, let me tell you briefly what I think of the overall report. Much to my surprise, I found the first half of the report, the assessment portion, to be right on. The report talks of many of the problems that I have seen here, and from 25 years of study of the region (man does that make me sound old!)

The "Way Forward" portion of the report, however, is not as realistic as I would like to see. Much of the talk of incorporating Syria, Iran, and neighboring Gulf States into a reconciliation posture is way too optimistic. Much of the section "The External Approach: Building an International Consensus" simply seems to ignore the fact that many countries, including European countries, have no interest in seeing a unified, reconciled, economically viable Iraq able to provide security inside its borders and protect its borders against foreign instigators. Perhaps I am too cynical, but the best we can expect from moderate Arab nations is benign neglect, and that is too much to hope from countries that enjoy having the U.S. busy in Iraq (Iran and North Korea in particular). The "Way Forward" portion would be fine if this were a perfect world where everyone would work toward reconciliation and a vital Iraq. I don't believe the Shia militias want to give up power or violence, and much of the talk of amnesty and De-baathification will remain just that: talk.

But still, it's nice to hear some good news today.


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