Iraq's parliament passed a long-delayed law yesterday paving the way for the planned January election to go forward, sidestepping a crisis that could have delayed the US troop withdrawal. The head of Iraq's electoral commission quickly proposed Jan. 21 for the election, five days after the earlier scheduled date. The American ambassador said the troop drawdown will start in earnest about 60 days after the vote.
The election law's passage appeared to resolve a key sticking point—who will be allowed to vote in the disputed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Under the legislation, the vote in Kirkuk would be held just like in other regions around the country, but the votes—and those in other disputed areas —could be subject to a special review if it is determined that there was a large population increase. Arabs and the Turkomens claim Kurds have packed the city with immigrants to tip the balance in their favor.