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Oil law key to US support for Iraq government: Maliki associates

[JURIST] Passage of a draft law aimed at dividing oil proceeds among various religious and ethnic groups in Iraq is critical to continued US support of the current Iraqi government, associates of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] told AP Tuesday. The draft oil law [JURIST report] approved by the Iraqi cabinet [JURIST report] in late February is now before the Iraqi National Assembly [official website, in English] for revisions and ratification. Negotiations have been a source of tension [JURIST report] for months in Iraq [JURIST news archive] as many Kurds and Shiites want to retain control of Iraq's oil resources [Global Policy backgrounder] in their areas, while Sunni Arabs, who do not dominate the oil-rich regions of the country, have insisted on central oversight.

Maliki confidants also indicated that the US is pushing for a "secular and inclusive" Iraqi government that Sunni-dominated countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, will find more favorable than the current Shiite-dominated regime. AP has more.

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