The deadlines for Iraq’s January elections appear to continue to come and go with little movement from the nation’s parliament. Already weeks removed from missing the official “deadline” for passing an election law, a warning from the UN that they needed to have the law finalized by today also passed without a vote.
The requirement to have the law in place 90 days before the January 16 vote is long gone, but Iraq’s election authority is now warning that they absolutely must have the deal finalized by Tuesday to have any reasonable chance of holding the vote on time.
But the various factions in Iraq’s parliament remain far apart and despite MPs repeatedly declaring their opposition to a delay it seems hard to imagine they can pass the law by Tuesday.
Not only must they work out a way for Iraqis to vote for individual candidates, as top clerics are opposed to making Iraqis vote on anonymous lists like last time, but they have to settle a Kirkuk dispute that has been growing for years.
The status of the oil-rich city is increasingly in dispute. Though the city has been occupied by Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs alike for centuries, the Kurdistan regional government maintains it is a uniquely Kurdish city and wants to annex it. The Arabs and Turkmen oppose this, as it would make them a very unwelcome minority in the autonomous region. The law governing the Kirkuk vote could either be a big win for Kurdistan’s ambitions on the region, or a bitter defeat. This has already led Kurdish MPs to boycott a prospective vote.
This is hardly going to be sorted out in the next 48 hours, but once a delay in the election, seemingly inevitable, is finalized, the question of its impact on the US troop drawdown will come increasingly into focus.