Monday, March 28, 2005
Juan Cole v. Star Tribune
reported yesterday via AP:
Iraqi government likely to be formed within days
The Shiite Muslim likely to be Iraq's next prime minister said Saturday
that the country's long-awaited government could be formed within days, an
accomplishment that would mark the end of nearly two months of negotiations
after the nation's first free elections in half a century.
Iraqi politicians, however, have been reporting that they were near a deal
for at least a month.
On the other hand, Juan Cole opines
There seems little likelihood of a government being formed before the
beginning of April. Two sticking points in the negotiations are the role of
Islam in the new government and who gets the ministry of petroleum. The
Kurds want it, as a way of getting hold of the city of Kirkuk, which they
covet. The Shiites want it, because they have the huge Rumaila oil field in
the south. In fact, there have been several demonstrations in Basra recently
by the Rumaila oil rig workers demanding that the post go to a Shiite from
the deep south. The director of the South Oil Co., which is theoretically
government-owned, appears to just be doing as he pleases down in Basra
without much consulting the "government" in Baghdad.
The difference between Cole's view and the AP article is mostly in the
headline. The Strib/AP piece does a good job of providing the context -- a
government is close to being formed, we are told, but we've told that
I don't see a three-fifths compromise in the works. It's quite simple, in
fact, to count a man as 3/5ths of a person. How, on the other hand, do you
base a government on 3/5ths of the Koran? What, in other words, would a
compromise look like? Either the new government predicates itself on Islamic
law and tradition or it does not. I don't see a third way and I don't see
any urgency to compromise.
Fortunately for Iraqis and Americans, I have no capacity for divination.