As readers may remember, I have been a longtime supporter of an Iraqi version of the Alaska Permanent Fund, which would flow some of the oil profits of the state through to every individual citizen. So I was heartened by a passage in a speech by Entifadh Qanbar delivered at AEI yesterday before General Petraeus spoke. Qanbar is a longtime aide to Ahmed Chalabi, long reviled by State Department and CIA Arabists as an exile with no base in Iraq but now a minister in the Iraqi government. Qanbar is now an official in the Iraqi Embassy in Washington. Here is what Qanbar said about oil:
"We were able to successfully add a clause to the draft constitution stipulating that oil wealth is to be equally shared by all Iraqis. Article (109): Oil and gas is the property of all the Iraqi people in all the regions and governorates. We are determined to work very hard to legislate equal ownership for all Iraqis, which will be an important way to give the Sunnis a stake in the future of Iraq."
Iraq's Sunnis controlled its government from the time of the British mandate, and evidently many Sunnis are under the false impression that they are in the minority in Iraq. Fair vote counting and an accurate census may not dissuade them from this illusion. But distribution of a share of oil profits in equal individual payments will show them that they are at least being treated the same as everyone else-especially since their part of Iraq produces very little of the country's oil.
And once Iraqis begin receiving payments for their share of oil profits, how long will it be for Saudis and Iranians to demand the same?