Wednesday, February 13, 2008
On this day:

Iraqi parliament passes three bills aimed at political reconciliation

It may be time for the Democrats and the media to revise their talking points on Iraq...yet again.

The New York Times reports:
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s parliamentary leaders on Wednesday pushed through three far-reaching measures that had been delayed for weeks by bitter political maneuvering that became so acrimonious that some lawmakers threatened to try to dissolve the legislative body.

More than any previous legislation, the new initiatives have the potential to spur reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites and set the country on the road to a more representative government, starting with new provincial elections.

The voting itself was a significant step forward for the Parliament, where even basic quorums have been rare. In a classic legislative compromise, the three measures, each of which was a burning issue for at least one faction, were packaged together for a single vote to encourage agreement across sectarian lines.

“Today we have a wedding party for the Iraqi Parliament,” said Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker, who is a Sunni. “We have proved that Iraqis are one bloc and Parliament is able to find solutions that represent all Iraqis.” ...

The three measures are the 2008 budget; a law outlining the scope of provincial powers, a crucial aspect of Iraq’s self-definition as a federal state; and an amnesty that would apply to thousands of the detainees held in Iraqi jails.


Several legislators emphasized after the voting on Wednesday that achieving true sectarian reconciliation was far more complex than simply passing a law.

“Reconciliation will hang on more than a law, it needs political will,” said Mithal al-Alusi, a Sunni legislator. “I believe there is no political will to achieve reconciliation. The law of amnesty is good, but not enough.”

So, as the diplomats say, we should be cautiously optimistic about what is obviously a very encouraging development.