Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sunni clerics group attacks Iraq's draft oil law

Harith al-Dhari, head of the Muslim Scholars Association. In early November he was accused of inciting terrorism and a warrant was issued for his arrest while he was out of the country. Al-Dhari declared the warrant illegal, and continued traveling around the region as part of his campaign to get other Arab states to deny recognition to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's administration. The warrant has further inflamed tensions in Iraq, where many consider al-Dhari, a longtime supporter of resistance against Americans, a hero

BAGHDAD, March 6 (Reuters) - An influential Sunni Arab group criticised Iraq's long awaited oil investment law on Tuesday, accusing the United States and Britain of invading the country out of greed for its vast oil wealth.

Iraq's cabinet agreed a draft of the law last month after months of wrangling, sending it to parliament for final approval.

The law sets out how oil revenues will be divided among the population and regulates how foreign companies will be able to invest in exploration and production.

Iraqi and U.S. officials have said the law will be a crucial ingredient for Iraqi reconciliation. It states that oil revenues will be spread evenly according to population around the country rather than staying in the region where the oil is found.

Sunni Arabs have long feared that Shi'ites and ethnic Kurds, who sit on top of Iraq's vast oil fields, will not share the country's wealth in an even way.

The Muslim Scholars Association, a leading Sunni clerics group accused by the Iraqi government of fomenting violence, said the law as drafted was "invalid and lacks legitimacy".

"The occupation forces have been rushing to pass such a law in a way that the rights of generations of Iraqis will sold," the group said in a statement, adding that U.S. and British forces had "hidden their intentions for many years".

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

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