Iraqi Cabinet Approves Draft Oil Law

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet unanimously approved a draft version of the country's oil law today, which Maliki called "the most important law in Iraq."

The measure would define the distribution of Iraq's oil wealth by opening Iraq's oil sector to foreign investors and putting a Federal Oil Council in charge of overseeing the national oil industry and an independent national oil firm.

Despite high hopes from the United States that the bill will help quell sectarian violence and give the country a badly needed revenue source, the bill is the center of a tug of war between Iraq's rival groups laying claim to what they call their fair share of the oil wealth (Greenwire, May 3).

Cabinet approval of the law means the Iraqi Parliament is likely to pass it despite a boycott of the Cabinet vote by 13 of the 37 ministers from the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front and the Shiite Sadrist movement over separate political disputes with al-Maliki. The parliament is likely to begin its debate of the law tomorrow (Qassim Abdul-Zahra, AP/Houston Chronicle).

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