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American Forces Press Service

Iraqi Lawmakers Must Make Hard Political Decisions, U.S. Officials Say

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2007 – Legislators serving in the Iraqi Council of Representatives have accomplished much in the body’s first year of existence, but additional important and difficult decisions still need to be made, according to a Multinational Force Iraq statement.

“The council’s most important work lies ahead of it,” officials said in a statement the command released yesterday. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who took command of the Baghdad-based command on Feb. 10, is the architect of the current surge of U.S. and Iraq forces into Baghdad and parts of western Iraq to tamp down insurgent violence and give the fledgling Iraqi government time to attend to pressing political issues.

Iraqi and coalition security forces have made great sacrifices in providing security to Iraq’s citizens, the statement noted. And now, Iraq’s lawmakers need “to find difficult political agreement” on such issues as the hydrocarbon law, de-Baathification reform, constitutional review and setting up new provincial elections that would increase Sunni participation in local government.

Sunnis lost political power after the fall of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who was a Sunni Arab. The Shiites, who make up the majority of Iraq’s population, were routinely persecuted under Saddam’s iron rule. Since Saddam’s fall from power in 2003, Shiites have been feuding with disaffected Sunnis, many of whom are believed to actively support the insurgency against the Iraqi government.

Since it was established a year ago, the council has sought to smooth relations between Iraq’s ethnic factions, but the body’s first year of representing all Iraqis “has been a turbulent one,” according to the Multinational Force Iraq statement.

In fact, al Qaeda terrorists attacked the legislators in their International Zone headquarters in April. However, the assault didn’t stop the legislators from continuing their work, MNF-I officials stated.

The Iraqi legislature has passed several important laws over the past 12 months, such as the Fuel Import Liberalization Law, the Foreign Investment Law, and a budget law, according to the statement.

However, as insurgent-staged violence continues in Iraq, the country’s legislators need to “find common political ground in the face of even the greatest adversity,” the statement noted.

The statement went on to praise the Iraqi legislature’s efforts and congratulated its members on its one-year anniversary.

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