Foreign Policy Blogs

Roundup: Iraq Allowed in Olympics; Bush Accepts Timeline; Negotiations over Kirkuk

Good news!  Iraq will be going to China next month, and sending four athletes: a men's rowing double, a discus thrower and their sprinter, Dana Hussain (their archer may also have the chance to compete, as long as his spot is still available after entries are completed by other countries.)  USA Today reports that the IOC cleared the Iraqi athletes late Tuesday after the government's promise to uphold their assigned National Olympic Committee.  CNN states that Iraq will be able to hold their own election for a new national committee as late as November, 2008.  Because of the missed deadline last week, a few athletes will not participate, however, all media outlets are reporting that Iraqis are thrilled to be able to compete in China.  “We look forward to seeing the Iraqi flag in Beijing,” said IOC President, Jacques Rogge. 

Bush has agreed to “a general time horizon,” as The New York Times announced last week.  Many believe this is due to the pressure from the Iraqi government regarding a future US military presence in the country.  Unfortunately, we can't celebrate just yet, as the Bush Administration continues to be vague on the matter.  However, some of this decision will rest on Iraqi military capability, and the White House has stated that further troop reductions could come with increasingly better conditions.  Some officials claim that Iraqis should be taking charge of security by 2009, with a complete independence from the US by 2012.  Senator Obama responded to the news by saying it's “a step in the right direction,” but believes the Administration is still being too vague.  Senator McCain continues to back Bush, stating that the timeline is proof of the success of the surge. 

After the bombing and riots in Kirkuk on Monday, which left 51 dead and over 250 injured (The Washington Post), Iraqi lawmakers have called for a special session to discuss disputes over the city, as reported by USA Today.  Kirkuk, an oil-rich and valuable area, has long been fought over by Arabs, Turkomen and Kurds.  The Kurds currently hold most of the power on the provincial council, and current tensions are coming from a new law that would require equal seats for all three groups.  Another aspect of this problem, and one that has been plaguing Iraq for many years now, are the Kurdish claims to Kirkuk as being a part of their semi-autonomous region.  However, Turkomen and Arabs, along with the rest of the Iraqi population, want to keep Kirkuk and its oil fields under central control and contributing to Iraqi finances.  The bombing, which attacked Kurds protesting the bill, set off sectarian violence on Monday as the Kurds then rioted at a Turkoman political site, blaming them for the attack. 



Jennifer Bushaw

Jennifer Bushaw holds an MA from the University of Chicago in Middle Eastern Studies with an emphasis on policy. She focused her research, including her Thesis, on modern Iraq and the Iraq war. She also has a Bachelor's in History from the University of Michigan. Jennifer is currently working as an Investigative Research Associate for a security advisory and management firm in Chicago, Illinois.

Areas of Focus:
Iraq-US Policy; Security; Coalition Operations;