Key Iraqi Oil Bill Stalls

Sunni, Shia and Kurds still at odds; White House benchmark not being met
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2007 5:47 AM CDT
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gestures during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, July 3, 2007. The Iraqi Cabinet has approved a draft of a key oil law Tuesday and parliament was expected...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – 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 .