As I write this column Tuesday morning, the well-deserved wall-to-wall coverage of the Pope's death seems to have obscured from view Iraqi news of an impending success in forming an Iraqi national unity government. Here is the agreed-to line-up, as reported by the Washington Times this morning.
There will be a Sunni Speaker of the National Assembly, a Kurdish president, a Shia prime minister, and Sunni and Shia vice presidents. The Foreign Affairs ministry will go to a Kurd, the Defense Ministry to a Sunni, and Oil, Interior and Finance Ministries to the Shia. "They are still juggling with the names (of the ministers)," said the Dawa Party spokesman. "In the coming week, we will hear more about the names of the strong candidates."
Various other tricky controversies have been resolved or partially resolved. The Kurdish peshmerga militias, which have been the more or less independent military arm of the Kurdish faction, will be considered part of the Iraqi armed forces, "but will be commanded and deployed by the Kurdish regional government," according to the report in the Times.
On the all important matter of who gets what oil revenues, the different factions agreed "in principle" that oil revenues will be distributed evenly among all Iraqis "with special attention going to communities that were deprived under Saddam, such as the Kurds, Marsh Arabs and Shiites of southern Iraq." They have not yet agreed on the exact numbers, and one can see rich ground for vigorous debate.
For instance, while the Kurds have unambiguously been severely discriminated against and had oil resources taken from them (and murdered in vast numbers) by the Hussein regime, economically, they were able to build a thriving economy in the last years of that regime under the protection of the Anglo-American no-fly zone. Doubtlessly the Kurds will base their claims on what has been wrongly taken from them. Others may argue for revenue distribution based on current economic conditions.
One of the other great disputes seems to have been largely resolved, at least to the extent that they have agreed on the mechanism for resolving it. The Hussein regime had expelled thousands of Kurds from their historic, oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The current tentative agreement calls for the repatriation of Kurds expelled from the city and "redrawing the administrative boundaries of the governate to its 1968 borders." That was the year that Saddam annexed pieces of Kirkuk to other, Sunni, governing units.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.