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US Papers Mon: Patience Wears Thin as Laws Lag
Uneasy Iraq Weighs Implications of Political Crisis Next Door
By DANIEL W. SMITH 06/22/2009 02:00 AM ET
The New York Times has a nice story today that goes beyond the usual security questions and speaks coherently to the imponderably large lack of laws passed by Iraq’s (so-called) lawmakers. The Washington Post looks into the effect the current election crisis in Iran will have on its westward neighbor.

From Iraq
You name the problem, there’s no clear, enforceable law to deal with it. Timothy Williams and Suadad al-Salhy of the New York Times write about the legislative effects of inaction, bickering, infighting - all the things politicians the world ‘round are good at, but which Iraqi politicians seem particularly adept at – or at least, find themselves working within a system that can’t get past these things and pass laws needed to govern the land. This is arguably the most significant problem facing the country because it makes all the others near-impossible to deal with.

In many ways, the article is a laundry list of problems which haven’t real legislative solutions, but it is actually helpful to read it as such - instead of just a corruption story here, or a sectarianism story there. There is analysis, and options are looked at, but none give too much confidence.
There is a growing concern that if the country’s Parliament does not soon approve a series of critical legislative measures, Iraq’s democratic experiment could erode as America pulls back, militarily and politically. By the end of this month, the United States is required to withdraw combat troops from Iraq’s cities and, by the end of 2011, from the entire country.

Some legislation that could help strengthen and diversify the economy has been awaiting passage in Parliament for as long as three years, even as large numbers of Iraqis live in poverty and without adequate housing, health care and other basic needs.

...Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who some members of Parliament blame for holding up several bills, has become so frustrated with the slow pace that he has began to lobby publicly for a switch to a presidential system, including holding direct elections for the nation’s leader.
The Washington Post’s Ernesto Londoño and Nada Bakri report on how the outcome of Iran’s disputed election might affect Iraq – strangely, a harder topic to report on than one would think. There are no big visible movements or indications of some grand consensus in Iraq, and it takes several interviews and plenty of explanation to write a story about it. Londoño and Bakri do just that, bringing in the usual suspects of Iranian influence in Iraq, US/Iran aggression playing out in Iraq, the effect of a significant change in US operations at the end of the month, and what either leader might mean for a future Iraq.

Iraqi officials say it is impossible to predict how -- and to what extent -- the unrest in Tehran will affect their country. In interviews, several politicians said they hope the crisis will make it harder for Iran's government to meddle in Iraqi affairs in coming months. Iraq is gearing up for a national election and is asserting more control over security as U.S. troops continue to draw down.

...Iranian leaders deny using Iraq as a staging ground to wage a proxy war against the United States. But many Iraqis accuse Iran of fomenting violence and instability in their country.
"All their energy is diverted to how to deal with the situation," Kurdish lawmaker Tanya Gilly said. "I think this is keeping them busy with their own affairs, rather than getting involved with other people's affairs. Maybe we'll have some quiet."

"I am so happy about what's going on in Iran," said a civil engineer from Baghdad. "I hope the demonstrators succeed and topple the regime. I don't want the violence there to end soon. They should suffer what we have suffered during the past six years, because they have been feeding that."

Gina Chon writes a piece about Saturday’s major bombing in Taza, south of Kirkuk, but since the Wall Street Journal doesn’t have a Sunday edition, it won’t be news for those who aren’t exclusively Journal devotees. She does get a little more into the local politics of the area than the Times and the Post did yesterday, though.
Arabs and Turkmen have been pushing to divide the provincial council to give each group 32% of the seats, but the Kurds have been resisting because they say they make up the largest population in the area. Arabs and Turkmen accuse the Kurds of moving their own people into the Kirkuk region to artificially boost their population to aid Kurds in the elections. "The other side doesn't seem to want to cooperate and so we are just stuck," said Rizgar Ali, a Kurd and chairman of the local provincial council.
Christian Science Monitor,USA Today, no original Iraq coverage.

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