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Oil Oops

It is probably inauspicious for Bush that on the eve of his debut in the Magical September extravaganza, the elusive Iraqi oil compromise is falling apart.

A carefully constructed compromise on a draft law governing Iraq’srich oil fields, agreed to in February after months of arduous talksamong Iraqi political groups, appears to have collapsed. The apparentbreakdown comes just as Congress and the White House are struggling tofind evidence that there is progress toward reconciliation and afunctioning government here.

There appears to be two causes for the collapse. First, Bush’s Sunni allies out in Anbar (and elsewhere) would rather embarrass Maliki than solidify a deal that will give them a share of the oil revenues.

But the prime minister’s office believes there is a simpler reason theSunnis abandoned or at least held off on the deal: signing it wouldhave given Mr. Maliki a political success that they did not want him tohave. “I think there is a political reason behind that delay in ordernot to see the Iraqi government achieve the real agreement,” said Sadiqal-Rikabi, a political adviser to Mr. Maliki. Mr. Rikabi was atWednesday’s meeting.

At least that’s what Maliki would like you to think–blame the Sunnis.

And then, of course, there are the independent oil deals the Kurds are signing, most notably one with Bush backer and intelligence buddy Ray Hunt.

Contributing to the dispute is the decision by the Kurds to beginsigning contracts with international oil companies before the federallaw is passed. The most recent instance, announced last week on aKurdish government Web site, was an oil exploration contract with theHunt Oil Company of Dallas.

All of which renews my question of the other day. WTF was Ray Hunt thinking when he signed that deal (besides about getting richer)? Kurdish attempts to present the Shiite and Sunni Arab Iraqis with facts with established Kurdish oil contracts before this oil deal was finalized are the real sticking point. Hunt’s contract, signed just days ago, makes that much worse. So why would a close Bush ally sign the deal–particularly so close to Bush’s big day?

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