Iraq: “progress” —if you set the bar really, really low

In a “rare burst of productivity,” Iraq’s parliament Feb. 13 passed three key laws and approved them as a package, ending months of deadlock. Two of the laws—providing for a general amnesty for thousands of Iraqi prisoners and defining the powers of Iraq’s provinces—are among the “benchmarks” set by the US Congress. The third, Iraq’s delayed $48 billion budget for 2008, is considered vital for the government to continue to function and initiate reconstruction projects. Immediately after the unanimous vote, parliament declared a five-week holiday, deferring further progress toward other benchmarks—such as a new oil law. (Chicago Tribune, Feb. 14)

Meanwhile near Raween in Salahuddin province, six members of the local Awakening Council were killed Feb. 14 they mistakenly fired on US soldiers. The occupation forces fired back, killing them and two women in nearby houses.

Meanwhile in Baghdad, a suicide bomber blew up a car at a busy market in the Shi’ite enclave of Sadr City. Hospital officials said one person was killed, a 13-year-old boy, though the Ministry of Interior said later that up to four had died and 33 were wounded. (NYT, Feb. 15)

See our last posts on Iraq, the struggle for the oil, the Sunni civil war, and the sectarian cleansing.