It looks like the Iraqi political leadership remained on the job during their August recess. Representatives of all main sects in Iraq announced agreement on the most contentious issues, including a deal to initiate revenue sharing on oil production that concerned the American Congress most (via Power Line):
Iraq's top Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.
The agreement by the five leaders was one of the most significant political developments in Iraq for months and was quickly welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands. ...
Maliki's appearance on Iraqi television with the four other leaders at a brief news conference was a rare show of public unity.
The other officials present were President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd; Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi; Shi'ite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Masoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Iraqi officials said the five leaders had agreed on draft legislation that would ease curbs on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party joining the civil service and military.
Consensus was also reached on a law governing provincial powers as well as setting up a mechanism to release some detainees held without charge, a key demand of Sunni Arabs since the majority being held are Sunnis.
The signs of progress had been building, and it started with the surge. That forced Maliki to look for Shi'ite support apart from radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who not only opposed the surge but also served as an Iranian stooge in Iraq. Once Sadr fled to Iran, Maliki started building a coalition of other Shi'ites and Kurds to replace him -- and when Sadr yanked his followers from Maliki's government, he wound up surviving the crisis.
Eleven days ago, Maliki went to Tikrit. Saying that Shi'ites take their lives in their hands there is a bit of an understatement. He went to meet with Sunni leaders after apparently spending several weeks paving the road for some agreement on the reforms. The work Petraeus did in quieting the Sunni provinces has allowed the tribes to coordinate on their own political aims and to build some unity of purpose.
When the National Assembly returns in a couple of weeks, the reforms should get pushed through quickly with this kind of support. Perhaps the Iraqis knew all along that the best way to win reform was to wait for the Assembly to take a break so that quieter negotiations could produce better results. Perhaps the Iraqis knew this a little better than their American counterparts.
Speaking of which, what will Congress have to say now that significant progress has been made both politically and militarily?