Analysis: Oil law scuffle tests Parliament’s power

A constitutional conflict between Iraq’s legislative and executive branches appears to be brewing, and oil legislation is at the center of the storm.
Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani (L), who leads the Cabinet's energy committee, holds a press conference with Parliament OIl and Energy Committee Chairman Adnan Janabi at Parliament in February 2011. Shahristani and Janabi's committees have each drafted legislation that would structure Iraq's oil sector. (BEN VAN HEUVELEN/Iraq Oil Report)

Four years after oil legislation served as the proxy battleground for a larger dispute over the shape of Iraqi federalism, it may now provoke a fight that tests the balance of the country's executive and legislative powers.

On Sunday, 61 parliamentarians proposed an oil and gas law that differs significantly from a version drafted by the Cabinet, according to an official who has read the document. The Parliament is pressing forward with its version despite an earlier ruling by Iraq’s highest court that effectively subordinates the Parliament to the Cabinet in the legislative process.

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