View Full Version : Iraqi Backs 'Benchmark' Action

05-03-2007, 09:30 AM
Congress outraged by Iraqi Parliament's summer break (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070503/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq&printer=1;_ylt=AhKcSO43eWqXnbK4LJ44sHOMwfIE).

Lawmakers divided over whether to keep U.S. troops in Iraq are finding common ground on at least one topic: They are furious that Iraqi politicians are considering a lengthy break this summer.

"If they go off on vacation for two months while our troops fight that would be the outrage of outrages," said Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn.

The Iraq parliament's recess, starting this July, would likely come without Baghdad politicians reaching agreements considered key to easing sectarian tensions. Examples include regulating distribution of the country's oil wealth and reversing measures that have excluded many Sunnis from jobs and government positions because of Baath party membership.


Congress leaves for four weeks each August and takes a week off, sometimes more, around prominent holidays. Lawmakers frequently adjourn for the August recess without reaching agreements on important legislation.

However, sectarian violence continues to rage in Iraq. In one particularly devastating attack, a bomb struck the Sadriyah market last month, killing more than 120 people and wounding more than 140 more.


The Iraqis have been able to reach consensus in some areas, but not necessarily ones that would calm sectarian violence.

On Monday the same day Rep. Ike Skelton (news, bio, voting record), D-Mo., issued a statement urging the Iraqi politicians to reconsider their summer break the Iraqi parliament called for a ban on U.S. troops near a holy Shiite Muslim shrine. Protests were led by the radical anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc after U.S. and Iraqi troops conducted a raid near the shrine.

05-15-2007, 09:45 AM
15 May Washington Times - Iraqi Backs 'Benchmark' Action (http://www.washtimes.com/world/20070515-121936-8553r.htm) by David Sands.

Iraq's parliament should pass a new oil law and make progress on amending the constitution before the end of the month, two key "benchmarks" being demanded by U.S. officials, a top Iraqi official said yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, one of the highest-ranking Kurdish officials in the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said that despite the increasingly pessimistic debate in Washington, Iraqi lawmakers should take action on both difficult issues in the coming days.

Mr. Salih said Iraqis are watching the U.S. debate over the Iraq war with mounting concern, saying that even recent signs of progress in Iraq are being overlooked in the partisan debate here...

05-16-2007, 11:27 PM
Raucous Iraqi Parliament Makes Little Progress (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10183647)- NPR, May 15.

In Parliament last week, Shiite lawmaker Shatha al-Mousawi was complaining bitterly about her recent visit with displaced Shiites from Diyala province. They were expelled from their homes because of sectarian violence.

It's intolerable that the government allows this bloodshed to happen, she said, demanding that the prime minister and other top officials be summoned to Parliament to respond.

The speaker of Parliament reacted to her emotional diatribe with laughter.

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni, said he was laughing to conceal his pain at the situation in which the Shiites of Diyala found themselves. But Shiite parliamentarians openly scolded him for his seemingly coldhearted reaction, and he in turn began attacking them.

"Three-quarters of those sitting here are responsible for the displacements and the sectarian killings, and now you're calling yourselves patriots?" he thundered.


No major issue has yet made it to the parliament floor, from the draft oil law to the review of the ban on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to amendments to the constitution.

Procedure calls for a first reading of each bill, like in most other parliaments around the world, and that has yet to happen here.

It's unlikely the bills will be debated before Iraqi lawmakers break for their two-month summer vacation in June.

The prospect of such a long holiday in the midst of political crisis, both here and in Washington, has infuriated U.S. officials and politicians. But Mahmoud Othman says Iraqi lawmakers are already taking off more time than members of the U.S. Congress know about.

"Every month we work two weeks," Othman said. "That's another point people should know about ... we are working half the time. So it's two-to-three hours a day, two weeks a month and then there is a holiday. So it's sort of a disaster ..."