BAGHDAD – Bombings killed seven U.S. soldiers in Baghdad and a southern city, the U.S. military said Sunday, and the country’s Sunni vice president spoke out against a proposed oil law, clouding the future of a key benchmark for ensuring continued U.S. support for the government.
Six of the soldiers were killed Saturday in a bombing in western Baghdad, the military said in a statement. Their interpreter was also killed.
The other soldier died in a blast Saturday in Diwaniyah, a mostly Shiite city 80 miles south of the capital where radical Shiite militias operate. Two soldiers were wounded in that attack, the military said.
Those deaths brought the number of American troops killed in Iraq since Friday to at least 15, eight of them in Baghdad. So far, at least 71 U.S. forces have died in Iraq this month, most of them from bombs.
In recent months, U.S. officials have been stepping up pressure on Iraq’s religious- and ethnic-based parties to reach agreements on a range of political and economic initiatives to encourage national reconciliation and bring an end to the fighting.
Progress in meeting those benchmarks is considered crucial to continued U.S. support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government at a time when Democrats in Congress are pressing for an end to the war. Those benchmarks include enactment of a new law to manage the country’s vast oil wealth and distribute revenues among the various groups.
But prospects for quick approval received a setback Sunday when the country’s Sunni vice president told reporters in Jordan that the proposed legislation gives too many concessions to foreign oil companies.
“We disagree with the production sharing agreement,” Tariq al-Hashemi told reporters on the sidelines of an international conference hosted by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. “We want foreign oil companies, and we have to lure them into Iraq to learn from their expertise and acquire their technology, but we shouldn’t give them big privileges.”
The bill also faces opposition from the Kurds, who have demanded greater control of oil fields in Kurdish areas. Kurdish parties control 58 of the 275 parliament seats.
Iraq’s Cabinet signed off on the oil bill in February and sent it to parliament, where it has yet to be considered.