Yet another milestone on political reconciliation has been met in Iraq. Earlier today, the National Assembly unanimously passed a law establishing provincial elections, one of the key indicators demanded by the US Congress to show progress in uniting Iraq under a democratic form of government. The late agreement will likely push elections back to January:
Iraq’s parliament has unanimously approved a provincial elections law after weeks of deadlock.
The lawmakers voted Wednesday in favor of the measure after overcoming an impasse due to objections over power-sharing issues in the province that includes the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
The Assembly decided to unlink the two issues by forming an ad-hoc committee to propose a settlement of Kirkuk. That allowed the parliament to address provincial elections directly, and the unanimous result indicates the unity among all of Iraq’s sectarian groups for provincial elections. That will finally allow local government to take some of the burden of management off of Baghdad and give tribes and communities a greater influence on day-to-day decisions, including rebuilding efforts.
In the larger overall picture, the Iraqis have done well to have come so far in a short period of time. Two years ago, Iraq was tearing itself apart in an orgy of violence and retribution. One year ago, many members of Congress refused to believe that the country could be saved. One year after Hillary Clinton called General David Petraeus a liar for reporting that the surge had shown progress, the Iraqis have essentially met all of the benchmarks that Congress imposed as signs of political progress. That’s an impressive turnaround.
Will this get any recognition from Congress? Will Harry Reid ever repudiate his demand for surrender on the floor of the Senate? Unfortunately, that’s a lot less likely than political reconciliation in Iraq. Maybe we should demand some benchmarks for our Congress.