Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Iraqi threatens to disband parliament

Iraq's government looks like its teetering on the brink of collapse.

The speaker of the Iraqi parliament threatened to disband the legislature saying its members distrust each other so much that its basically impossible for them to pass any laws. Right now the parliament is trying to pass a budget, but the negotiations are hung up over how much of the government's funds should go to the Kurds. The Kurds want 17%; the percentage of Iraq's population they say is Kurdish. The Sunnis and Shiites say Kurds make up only 14% of the population and want to set the rate at that amount. Iraq has not conducted a census in decades, so how much of the population belongs to each group is only a guess.

There seemed to be a deal worked out on Tuesday, but the Kurds withdrew at the last minute, fearing the other two factions would not keep up their end of the bargain. This prompted the speaker to make his statement that the government is hopelessly broken.

In a stroke of truly bad timing, the possible collapse of the government comes at the one-year anniversary of "the surge" - the increase of US troops in Iraq. While the surge has helped to greatly reduce the level of violence in Iraq, its important to remember that the goal of the surge was to provide the security that would allow Iraq's government to function. But while Iraq's streets may have gotten safer, their government shows no signs of working any better than it has for the past several years.
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