For months, sectarian acrimony in the Iraqi parliament has stalled passage of an oil law -- a crucial "benchmark" for national unity. That's been especially distressing to U.S. officials, who frequently invoke the oil law's potential for fostering national unity. One of its chief proponents, former U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, wrote in a valedictory March op-ed
that the measure represents "the first time since 2003 that all major Iraqi communities have come together on a defining piece of legislation."
But UPI energy correspondent Ben Lando, perhaps the most diligent and thorough reporter focusing on the oil law, points out
that the actual text of the legislation doesn't represent anything of the sort. For starters, the law punts on the hard questions:
A separate revenue-sharing law would decide how the oil revenue is spread around the country. It is currently being negotiated, though far behind the hydrocarbons law in the Iraqi legislative process. ...
Only a small portion of the law mentions revenue, and explicitly states that, according to the Iraqi Constitution, a separate "federal revenue law" is required to dictate how the revenue is spent.
Got that? The law doesn't even establish who owns the revenue generated by oil sales -- the mechanism that's supposed to mollify Sunnis in the oil-starved center-west of the country -- and it's still
bottled up in the Iraqi parliament. Talk about a benchmark that marks few benches.