Hot off the wires…. Dateline Baghdad, August 27 (Monday).
Iraq’s top Shi’ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key laws that Washington views as vital to fostering national reconciliation.
The agreement was the most significant political development to take place in Iraq for months and was immediately welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands.
The apparent breakthrough comes two weeks before U.S. President George W. Bush’s top officials in Iraq present a report on the country that could have a major influence on future American policy in the country.
“This agreement aims to give a push to the political process which is in crisis,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Al-Arabiya television.
The laws need to be passed by Iraq’s fractious parliament, which has yet to receive any of the drafts.
But the appearance of Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Iraqi television with the other leaders was a rare show of public unity amid crumbling support for the government.
The other officials at the news conference were President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd; Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi; Shi’ite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Masoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Iraqi officials said the leaders had signed an agreement on easing restrictions on former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party joining the civil service and military.
“The new agreement includes a new draft of deBaathification, which allows those members who did not commit a crime to participate in the political process,” Dabbagh said.
He said consensus was also reached on holding provincial elections and setting up a mechanism to release some detainees held without charge, a key demand of Sunni Arabs since the majority are members of their sect.
Yasin Majid, a media adviser to Maliki, told Reuters the leaders also endorsed a draft oil law, which has already been agreed by the cabinet but has not yet gone to parliament.
Shouldn’t this be the lead on all of the three major MSM Sunday night network news programs? *holding breath*