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Daily Column
US Papers Tuesday: Oil Law Advances
Majority of Americans Favor Timetable; Love Iraqi Style
By GREG HOADLEY 02/27/2007 01:58 AM ET
Iraq’s momentous draft oil law, which will shape the most important part of the Iraqi economy, cleared a major hurdle yesterday, receiving the approval of the cabinet. Of the three articles on the law in our papers today, the Times is the best read.

The US keeps adding inconclusive "proof" to its allegations about Iranian arming of Iraqi militias, and the Post finds in an original opinion poll that a majority of Americans would support a withdrawal timetable. Don’t miss the Monitor’s profile of a young couple in Baghdad.

Highlights of the draft oil legislation include the pooling of revenues in a central account, to be distributed to each province, allegedly on a per capita basis; regional authority to sign international contracts, subject to review by a central board; and the allowing of controversial production-sharing agreements, arrangements which some have called too generous to foreign oil companies. Edward Wong writes in the Times that the once-mighty Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) will be spun off as a private company, presumably to compete with foreign concerns over oil rights, to which it once had exclusive access. The draft law now passes to the parliament for its approval. Iraq’s political parties setting a May 2007 deadline for passage, but debate could be intense. International giants are circling, eager to tap Iraq’s vast reserves but still unsure about the legal and security issues concerned.

A bomb at the Ministry of Public Works in Mansour killed five and injured Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Reyad Gharib, public works minister, Damien Cave writes for the Times. Saleh al-Ugaili, a Sadrist MP elaborated on a yesterday’s statement attributed to Muqtada al-Sadr, saying that the cleric did in fact support the security plan, but believed that it should be under Iraqi, not American, control.

North of Baghdad airport, the US military laid out a spread of captured bomb-making parts and explosives, some of which appeared to be made in Iran, James Glanz and Richard Oppel Jr. write for the Times. According to the US military, the materials had been seized two days earlier in a raid north of Baghdad, although many of the assorted items were made in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. The US continues to make its case against Iran using circumstantial evidence. Proof of Iranian origin, which has not been confirmed, only shows that there is a trade in Iranian arms in the region, which no one doubts. Moreover, many of the devices appear to be homemade from household items such as electronic appliances and PVC pipes, hardly a sign of high-level Iranian coordination of militancy and resistance in Iraq.

ABC reporter Bob Woodruff made a remarkable recovery from his injuries in Iraq. Howard Kurtz of the Post and Alessandra Stanley of the Times both profile Woodruff’s experience and his advocacy for wounded Iraq vets.

In other coverage:


John Taylor contributes an op-ed defending the US reliance on massive shipments of cash into Iraq during the post-war period. While Taylor argues in favor of using cash payments in a country that has just been invaded and conquered, he doesn’t touch on the main issue that had riled critics on Capitol Hill: billions of dollars in this cash simply vanished and will likely never be accounted for.


Joshua Partlow and Ernesto Londoño write up the day’s Iraq news, including the oil law, the attack at the Public Works Ministry, and the US display of seized munitions.

A majority of Americans, 53 percent. in a Washington Post/ABC News poll favored the imposition of a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, Dan Balz and Jon Cohen report.

A Marine died in Anbar Province yesterday, Bill Brubaker writes.

The widow of a US soldier who had arranged before he died in Iraq for an Iraqi boy to come to the US for heart surgery has met the boy in New Hyde Park, New York, Robin Shulman writes in the Post.


David Rogers discusses the policy dilemmas facing the Democrats over Iraq opposition strategies.

Hassan Hafidh and Chip Cummins write a short report on the oil law’s advance.


Rick Jervis writes that the increasing scale of other forms of attacks might overshadow the recent decreases in roadside bombings and sectarian kidnapping-murders.

John McCain, who ran against George Bush in the 2000 primaries now finds his fate inextricably linked to the president’s, Susan Page writes. Poll data show that McCain’s die-hard stance on the war have cost him votes with independents and Democrats.


Scott Peterson checks in with Baghdad’s Methboub family and sends in a profile a a young couple’s courtship, punctuated by bomb blasts. The Monitor has been profiling the Methboub family since 2002.

Peter Grier writes that US planners and analysts are beginning to think of the Iraq conflict as a civil war, and a complex one at that. “Think of it this way,” he writes, “In Iraq, the US simultaneously is playing several different games of chess against several different opponents. Meanwhile, some of those opponents are conspiring together.”


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