U.S. military plans on course in Iraq

Nov. 20, 2009 at 12:23 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Political stability in Iraq is not a necessary factor for U.S. efforts to move forward with the responsible withdrawal of its combat forces, scholars say.

Despite the looming threat from a veto over amendments to a 2005 election law, several measures adopted by Iraqi lawmakers address lingering issues challenging U.S. military plans in Iraq.

Baghdad managed to settle outstanding election matters related to the disputed city of Kirkuk, which lies at the center of territorial spats between the Kurdish and central governments.

The new law uses 2009 voter records for Kirkuk to reflect the ethnic diversity of the city. It also states that the results of the pending parliamentary vote would not set "any legal or administrative precedent" for the disputed city, writes Ahmed Ali, an Iraq expert at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Differences over Kirkuk and the so-called disputed territories in Iraq are among the more contentious issues troubling U.S. policymakers in Iraq.

The election measure on Kirkuk, Ali notes, prevents both governments in Iraq from using Kirkuk as political bargaining chip, however.

Though a delayed vote could undermine the long-term relationship with Iraq, "a stable political landscape in Iraq is not necessary for U.S. military planning efforts," Ali concludes.

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