MEANWHILE IN IRAQ

Iraq Passes Pivotal Election Law

It seems that a political crisis has been averted for now. On Sunday, Iraq's parliament finally passed a law scheduling national elections for January 23. Members of parliament had struggled over representation of the Kirkuk region, an area held predominantly by Arabs and Turkomen, and Kurds who returned to the area in large numbers after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Lawmakers appeased Kurds by agreeing to the use voter lists from 2009 rather than from 2004, before many Kurds had returned. Within the next year, a panel will investigate and compare 2004 voter lists in Kirkuk and other disputed areas. For now, the compromise means that the planned U.S. troop withdrawal for next summer will "proceed as planned," which is a boost to the Obama administration as it debates sending more troops to Afghanistan.