There has been a welcome outbreak of pragmatism in Iraq in recent days.

While the fact that ExxonMobil will apparently be allowed to take part in the auction for the fourth round oil licences was not entirely unexpected, some will see it as a climb down on the part of Baghdad.

Others, such as Hess Corp, which was barred in September as a result of its contracts in Iraqi Kurdistan, will be left in little doubt that some oil companies are more equal than others.

On the party-political front, the return of Iraqiyya deputies to the parliament after several weeks of boycott has generally been seen as a positive, especially with budgets to be finalised.

But this should not lead to any complacency, as tensions between the factions still