Bitter infighting among Iraq's ethnic and religious groups is holding up crucial legislation on Iraqi oil regulation and distribution, the AP reports. Despite heavy pressure from Washington to pass the bill, debate scheduled to start yesterday was delayed. Sunnis object to the bill because they fear most oil wealth will go to Kurds and Shia, while the Kurds are resisting concessions to the Sunnis.
One Sunni organization issued a fatwa blasting it as "religiously forbidden"; the Shiite party loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr rejected it for destroying "Iraq's unity." Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki has enough votes to force passage, but that would defeat a purpose of the bill—to achieve consensus and reconciliation. Passage is one of the benchmarks of progress the White House has demanded of the Iraqi government .