Local oil politics stall parliament

Unresolved disagreements over the control of Iraq’s oil and the distribution of revenue have stopped the new parliament, before it can even start.
Iraq's second oldest MP, Fouad Maasum, chaired the first session of the new parliament in Baghdad on June 14, 2010. A month later, the Parliament missed its deadline for a second meeting. (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD - Iraq's newly elected parliament was scheduled to meet Tuesday, but the tall task ahead of it proved too daunting. Not only do the new MPs need to negotiate a ruling coalition, but once they do, they’ll need to broker legislation that will regulate the development, management, and distribution of all things oil in Iraq. Under the strain of such expectations, Iraq’s would-be legislators postponed another two weeks. Investors hoping to understand the impact of the elections on Iraq’s oil sector are faced with the same frustrating answer as Iraqis anxious to meet their new leaders: “wait and see.”

That said, interviews with several new parliamentarians help give a provisional sketch of the future. Whoever winds up at Iraq’s helm, it’s already clear that traditional party lines will continue to dominate oil politics, as nationalist Arab parties still want power centralized in Baghdad, while Kurdish parties favor more regional control. There are new wrinkles, too: the recent, promising oil exploration in Kurdistan may relax the vehemence of Kurdish claims on oil-rich Kirkuk, and MPs from Basra seem impatient with their party’s official lines, as the province continues producing the lion’s share of Iraq’s oil but lags economically.

This content is for registered users. Please login to continue.
If you are not a registered user, you may purchase a subscription or sign up for a free trial.
Iraq Oil Report Attribution Policy

All sources quoted or referenced spoke to Iraq Oil Report directly and exclusively, unless stated otherwise. Iraq Oil Report typically grants anonymity to sources that can't speak without risking their personal safety or job security. We only publish information from anonymous sources that we independently corroborate and are important to core elements of the story. We do not provide anonymity to sources whose purpose is to further personal or political agendas.

Iraq Oil Report Commitment to Independence

Iraq Oil Report strives to provide thoroughly vetted reporting and fair-minded analysis that enables readers to understand the dynamic events of Iraq. To meet this goal, we always seek to gather first-hand information on the ground, verify facts from multiple angles, and solicit input from every stakeholder involved in a given story.

view our independence as an integral piece of our competitive advantage. Whereas many media entities in Iraq are owned or heavily influenced by political parties, Iraq Oil Report is wholly owned by several of its employees. In a landscape that is often polarized and politicized, we are able to gather and corroborate information from an unusually wide array of sources because we can speak with all of them in good faith.

fund this enterprise, Iraq Oil Report depends on revenue from both advertising and subscriptions. Some of our advertisers and subscribers ‐ including companies, governments, and NGOs ‐ are also subjects of our reporting. Consistent with journalistic best practices, Iraq Oil Report maintains a strict firewall that removes business considerations from editorial decision-making. When we are choosing which stories to report and how to write them, our readers always come first.