Friday, August 03, 2007
(UPI) - Politics in Iraq's oil capital, Basra, are tense as its governor faces dismissal amid allegations Shiite parties are angling for control. Iraqi media reports indicate the area, where the vast majority of Iraq's 1.5 million barrels per day of oil exports are sent to market, is in danger of becoming inflamed. Mohammed Musbah al-Wa'ili, a Fadhila Party member and governor of Basra province, was dismissed in a vote dominated by another party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council.
SIIC is one of two major Shiite parties in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's governing coalition. Fadhila was a partner until it withdrew earlier this year over disagreements with Maliki's leadership. The Sadr Movement, another Shiite party with weight in Basra, has also quit Maliki's coalition, as has the largest Sunni bloc, the Accord Front.
Maliki was asked to overturn the council's vote on Wa'ili but refused. "I will appeal to the Iraqi Judicial System," Asarq al-Awsat reports Wa'ili saying. It goes on to say the Fadhila Party accuses the parties with more power in Baghdad of attempting to obtain power in Basra. It says a proposed federal oil law, which SIIC supports, will give local authorities more decision-making powers in the oil sector.
The law is far from approved as numerous political, religious and ethnic factions, as well as unions and civil society, are at odds over how strong the federal government's arm should be in the oil sector and to what extent foreign companies should be allowed. The Azzaman newspaper reports the Fadhila Party is urging its followers not to launch massive protests, as was planned, as negotiations continue.