A Pact With The Devil By Pepe Escobar + Iraqi cabinet accepts US agreement

Dandelion Salad

By Pepe Escobar
ICH
November 17, 2008
Asia Times
WASHINGTON

The big bang is not that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s majority Shi’ite/Kurdish 37-member cabinet in Baghdad has approved the draft of a security pact with the George W Bush (and Barack Obama) administrations allowing the US military to stay in Iraq for three more years; it’s that the 30-strong Sadrist bloc will move heaven and Earth – including massive nationwide protests – to bloc the pact in the Iraqi National Assembly. Continue reading

Iraq cabinet approves troop agreement with U.S.

Dandelion Salad

By Adam Ashton
McClatchy Newspapers
Nov. 16, 2008

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s cabinet today approved a security pact that calls for Americans to withdraw from the country within three years. That action sets up a final vote on the agreement in Iraq’s parliament.

Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki built political momentum for the agreement through the weekend, declaring his support and helping persuade leading Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani to give it the green light on Saturday.

[…]

via McClatchy Washington Bureau | 11/16/2008 | Iraq cabinet approves troop agreement with U.S.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

US ‘may plot assassination of Al Maliki’

Dandelion Salad

By Basil Adas, Correspondent
http://www.gulfnews.com
September 12, 2008, 00:30

Baghdad: Americans, increasingly resenting recent moves by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, could seek to topple or even assassinate him, says a secret report by a Kurdish political party, which is part of the national government.

The report, which Gulf News has seen, says Al Maliki does not want to see any US soldier in Iraq after 2011 and he preferred strong political, economic and military relations with the Americans but not the presence and influence of the US military in his country.

[…]

Gulfnews: US ‘may plot assassination of Al Maliki’.

h/t: CLG

Who Lost Iraq? By Michael Schwartz

Dandelion Salad

By Michael Schwartz
TomDispatch
Sept 8, 2008

Is the Maliki Government Jumping Off the American Ship of State?

As the Bush administration was entering office in 2000, Donald Rumsfeld exuberantly expressed its grandiose ambitions for Middle East domination, telling a National Security Council meeting: “Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that’s aligned with U.S. interests. It would change everything in the region and beyond.”

A few weeks later, Bush speechwriter David Frum offered an even more exuberant version of the same vision to the New York Times Magazine: “An American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the replacement of the radical Baathist dictatorship with a new government more closely aligned with the United States, would put America more wholly in charge of the region than any power since the Ottomans, or maybe even the Romans.”

From the moment on May 1, 2003, when the President declared “major combat operations… ended” on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, such exuberant administration statements have repeatedly been deflated by events on the ground. Left unsaid through all the twists and turns in Iraq has been this: Whatever their disappointments, administration officials never actually gave up on their grandiose ambitions. Through thick and thin, Washington has sought to install a regime “aligned with U.S. interests” — a government ready to cooperate in establishing the United States as the predominant power in the Middle East.

Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, Is American Success a Failure in Iraq?.

US-Iraqi Agreement: Leaked (Full Text)

Dandelion Salad

By Raed Jarrar
ICH
09/01/08

I read about a leaked copy of the US-Iraqi agreement a few days ago when a radio station in Iraq mentioned some of its details, then it was mentioned in some Arab newspapers like Al-Qabas and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. A couple of days ago, one Iraqi website (linked to an Iraqi armed resistance group) published the leaked draft on their web page for less than a couple of days before their website went offline. (Thankfully, I downloaded the 21 pages agreement and saved them before their server went down)

I spent this weekend translating it, and just finished now. you can read the 27 articles August 6th draft below. The title of this draft is “Agreement regarding the activities and presence of U.S. forces, and its withdrawal from Iraq”, but this is the same agreement that is referred to as a “status of forces agreement” or “SOFA” or framework or whatever. It’s the result of months of negotiations after Bush and Al-Maliki signed the “Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America” by the end of last year.

This leaked draft is a treasure of information. It’s the first time any document related to this topic is made public. It shows how weak the Iraqi negotiations team is (it is really pathetic to read their “suggestions” on how to fix the disaster of an agreement).

There are many outrageous articles in the agreement that violates Iraq’s sovereignty and independence, and gives the U.S. occupation authorities unprecedented rights and privileges, but what has draw my attention the most (so far) are three major points:

1- the agreement does not discuss anything about a complete US withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, it talks about withdrawing “combat troops” without defining what is the difference between combat troops and other troops. It is very clear that the US is planning to stay indefinitely in permanent bases in Iraq (or as the agreement calls them: “installations and areas agreed upon”) where the U.S. will continue training and supporting Iraqis armed forces for the foreseeable future.

2- the agreement goes into effect when the two executive branches exchange “memos”, instead of waiting for Iraqi parliament’s ratification. This is really dangerous, and it is shocking because both the Iraqi and U.S. executive branches have been assuring the Iraqi parliament that no agreement will go into effect without being ratified by Iraq’s MPs.

3- this agreement is the blueprint for keeping other occupation armies (aka Multi-national forces) in Iraq on the long run. This explains the silence regarding what will happed to other occupiers (like the U.K. forces) after the expiration of the UN mandate at the end of this year.

It is really disturbing to read how the U.S. government is still going down the same path of intervention and domination in Iraq.

This agreement will not be accepted by the Iraqi people and their elected representatives in the Iraqi parliament, and if the U.S. and Iraqi executive branches try to consider it valid anyway it will lead to more violence in Iraq.

[…]

continued at:
Agreement Regarding the Activities and Presence of U.S. forces, and its Withdrawal from Iraq – August, 6th, 2008 4:00pm

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Who’s Really Running Iraq? By Patrick Cockburn

Dandelion Salad

By Patrick Cockburn
ICH
08/04/08 “Counterpunch

Home Truths You’ll Never Read in the Press

American politicians and journalists have repeatedly made the same mistake in Iraq over the past five years. This is to assume that the US is far more in control of events in the country than has ever truly been the case. This was true after the fall of Saddam Hussein when President Bush and his viceroy in Baghdad Paul Bremer believed that what Iraqis thought and did could safely be ignored. Within months guerrilla war against American forces was raging across central Iraq.

The ability of America to make unilateral decisions in Iraq is diminishing by the month, but the White House was still horrified to hear the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki appearing to endorse Barack Obama’s plan for the withdrawal of American combat troops over 16 months. This cut the ground from under the feet of  John McCain who has repeatedly declared that ‘victory’ is at last within America’s grasp because of the great achievements of ‘the Surge’, the American reinforcements sent to Iraq in 2007 to regain control of Baghdad.

The success of ‘the Surge’ is becoming almost received wisdom in the US. This is strange since, if the US strategy did win such an important victory, why do America generals need more soldiers, currently 147,000 of them, in Iraq than they did before ‘the  Surge’ started? But belief in this so-called victory is in keeping with the American tradition of seeing everything that happens in Iraq as being the result of actions by the US alone. The complex political landscape of Iraq is ignored. US commentators have never quite taken on board that there are not one but three wars being fought out in the country since 2003: the first is the war of resistance against the American occupation by insurgents from the Sunni Arab community. The second is the battle between the Sunni and Shia communities as to who should rule the Iraqi state in succession to Saddam Hussein. The third conflict is a proxy war between the US and Iran to decide who should be the predominant foreign power in Iraq. The real, though exaggerated, fall in violence in Iraq over the last year is a consequence of developments in all three of these wars, but they do not necessarily have much to do with ‘the Surge’.

The reduction in violence is in any case only in comparison to the bloodbath of 2005-7 when Baghdad and central Iraq was ravaged by a sectarian civil war. There were 554 Iraqis killed in the fighting in June 2008, which is only a third of the figure for the same month a year earlier. This is progress, but it still makes Baghdad the most dangerous city in the world. Asked on television about the security situation, Iraqis often respond that ‘things are getting better’ and so they undoubtedly are, but people usually mean that things are better than the terror of two years ago. Foreign television correspondents laud the improved security in the Iraqi capital and are pictured apparently strolling down a peaceful and busy street. What the television viewer does not see are the armed guards standing behind the cameraman, without whom the correspondents would not dare set foot outside their heavily guarded offices.

I do drive around Baghdad without armed guards and have always done so. But I sit in the back of a car with an Arabic newspaper and a jacket or shirt on a hanger masking the window next to me. I have a second car behind me in contact with us by field radios to make sure that we are not being followed. It is true that security is better, but this can be overstated. Each district iin Baghdad is sealed off by concrete walls. There are checkpoints every few hundred yards. Sunni and Shia do not visit each other areas unless they have to. The best barometer for the real state of security in Baghdad is the attitude of Iraqi refugees, particularly the 2.4 million people who fled to Jordan and Syria. Though often living in miserable conditions and with their money running out, the refugees are generally not coming home to Iraq and, when they do, they seldom return to houses from which they have been forced to flee. If they do try to do so the results are often fatal. Baghdad has few mixed areas left and today is 75-80 per cent a Shia city. The demographic balance in the capital has shifted against the Sunni and this is unlikely to change. The battle for Baghdad was won by the Shia and was ending even before ‘the Surge’ began in February 2007.

It was the outcome of the struggle for the capital that caused a large part of the anti-American resistance to make a dramatic change of sides, switching suddenly from fighting to supporting US troops. The attempt by al-Qa’ida in Iraq to take over the whole of the anti-occupation resistance in late 2006 was important in forcing other insurgent groups to ally themselves with the US as al-Sahwa or the Awakening movement. But perhaps a more important reason for the rise of al-Sahwa was that there was no point in the Sunni insurgents attacking the Americans if they were being driven from Iraq by the Shia. There are now some 90,000 former Sunni resistance fighters on the American payroll, but they happily express open hatred and contempt for the Iraqi government. Sectarian divisions in the country remain very deep. In the Fallujah area, for instance, it is very dangerous for either the Sunni chief of police or the al-Sahwa commander (they are brothers) to enter Baghdad. This is because Abu Ghraib at the entrance to the city is controlled by the much-feared and heavily-Shia al-Muthana Brigade, who might kill either of them on sight.

Another reason why violence has fallen in Iraq over the last eighteen months has little to do with ‘the Surge’, but is the consequence of the Shia militiamen of the Mehdi Army being stood down by its leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The one constant theme in his strategy, ever since he fought the US Marines in Najaf in 2004, has been to avoid direct military conflict with the US armed forces or his Shia rivals when backed by US firepower. This was true at the start of ‘the Surge’ in February 2007 and Muqtada has sought truces and ceasefires ever since. He did so after fighting with the Iraqi police in Kerbala in August 2007 and he renewed the truce six months later. In March this year the Iraqi army launched a military offensive to take Basra from the Mehdi Army, an attack which at first failed to make headway until backed by US airpower. But in Basra and later in Sadr City in Baghdad, Muqtada agreed to ceasefires which allowed his former bastions to be taken over by the Iraqi army. Muqtada did not fight because he knew his men must lose at the end of the day. For a military confrontation with the Iraqi army and the US he would need the support of Iran and this was not forthcoming.

McCain and other American politicians who believe that ‘the Surge’ has brought them close to victory, seldom understand the role Iran has played in Iraq in the last two years. Paradoxically, Iran and the US together are the two main supporters of the present Iraqi government. For Iran, Nouri al-Maliki in power in Baghdad leading a coalition of Shia religious parties allied to the Kurds is as good as it is going to get. The Iranians may vie with the US for influence over this government, but both want it to stay in power. “People fail to realise that the success of ‘the Surge’ was the result of a tacit agreement between the US and Iran,” one Iraqi leader told me. “There really is an Iranian-American condominium ruling Iraq these days,” said another.

Suppose McCain is elected US president in November and acts as if the US is the only decision maker in Iraq then he will face a renewed war. Iraqis will not accept the occupation continuing indefinitely and Iran will not allow itself to be marginalized. If McCain were to try to win a military victory in Iraq he could find the supposed achievements of ‘the Surge’ rapidly evaporating.

Patrick Cockburn is the Ihe author of “Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq.” A version of this piece appeared in The National (http://www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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The Ticking Iraqi Clock By John Bruhns

Civilians in Warfare (music video with artwork)

The Stealing Of America – The Unethics Of America’s New Undemocracy

Defeated in Iraq? By Mike Whitney

Baghdad: City of walls + Death, destruction & fear + Shabby, tired & scared

Iraq

You Need Uncle Sam, Iraq Told By Gareth Porter

Dandelion Salad

By Gareth Porter
ICH
25/07/08 “IPS

WASHINGTON – Instead of moving toward accommodating the demand of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for a timetable for United States military withdrawal, the George W Bush administration and the US military leadership are continuing to pressure their erstwhile client regime to bow to the US demand for a long-term military presence in the country.

The emergence of this defiant US posture toward the Iraqi withdrawal demand underlines just how important long-term access to military bases in Iraq has become to the US military and national security bureaucracy in general.

From the beginning, the Bush administration’s response to the Maliki withdrawal demand has been to treat it as a mere aspiration that the US need not accept.

The counter-message that has been conveyed to Iraq from a multiplicity of US sources, including former Central Command (CENTCOM) commander William Fallon, is that the security objectives of Iraq must include continued dependence on US troops for an indefinite period. The larger, implicit message, however, is that the US is still in control, and that it – not the Iraqi government – will make the final decision.

That point was made initially by State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos, who stated flatly on July 9 that any US decision on withdrawal “will be conditions-based”.

In a sign that the US military is also mounting pressure on the Iraqi government to abandon its withdrawal demand, Fallon wrote an op-ed piece published in the New York Times on July 20 that called on Iraqi leaders to accept the US demand for long-term access to military bases.

Fallon, who became something of a folk hero among foes of the Bush administration’s policy in the Middle East for having been forced out of his CENTCOM position for his anti-aggression stance, takes an extremely aggressive line against the Iraqi withdrawal demand in the op-ed. The piece is remarkable not only for its condescending attitude toward the Iraqi government, but for its peremptory tone toward it.

Fallon is dismissive of the idea that Iraq can take care of itself without US troops to maintain ultimate control. “The government of Iraq is eager to exert its sovereignty,” Fallon writes, “but its leaders also recognize that it will be some time before Iraq can take full control of security.”

Fallon insists that “the government of Iraq must recognize its continued, if diminishing reliance on the American military”. And in the penultimate paragraph he demands “political posturing in pursuit of short-term gains must cease”.

Fallon, now retired from the military, is obviously serving as a stand-in for US military chiefs for whom the public expression of such a hardline stance against the Iraqi withdrawal demand would have been considered inappropriate.

But the former US military proconsul in the Middle East, like his active-duty colleagues, appears to actually believe that the US can intimidate the Maliki government. The assumption implicit in his op-ed is that the US has both the right and power to preempt Iraq’s national interests to continue to build its military empire in the Middle East.

As CENTCOM chief, Fallon had been planning on the assumption that the US military would continue to have access to military bases in both Iraq and Afghanistan for many years to come. A July 14 story by Washington Post national security and intelligence reporter Walter Pincus said that the army had requested US$184 million to build power plants at its five main bases in Iraq.

The five bases, Pincus reported, are among the “final bases and support locations where troops, aircraft and equipment will be consolidated as the US military presence is reduced”.

Funding for the power plants, which would be necessary to support a large US force in Iraq within the five remaining bases, for a longer-term stay, was eliminated from the military construction bill for fiscal year 2008. Pincus quoted a congressional source as noting that the power plants would have taken up to two years to complete.

The plan to keep several major bases in Iraq is just part of a larger plan, on which Fallon himself was working, for permanent US land bases in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Fallon revealed in congressional testimony last year that Bagram air base in Afghanistan is regarded as “the centerpiece for the CENTCOM master plan for future access to and operations in Central Asia”.

As Fallon was writing his op-ed, the Bush administration was planning for a video conference between Bush and Maliki, evidently hoping to move the obstreperous Maliki away from his position on withdrawal. Afterward, however, the White House found it necessary to cover up the fact that Maliki had refused to back down in the face of Bush’s pressure.

It issued a statement claiming that the two leaders had agreed to “a general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals” but that the goals would include turning over more control to Iraqi security forces and the “further reduction of US combat forces from Iraq” – but not a complete withdrawal.

But that was quickly revealed to be a blatant misrepresentation of Maliki’s position. As Maliki’s spokesman Ali Dabbagh confirmed, the “time horizon” on which Bush and Maliki had agreed not only covered the “full handover of security responsibility to the Iraqi forces in order to decrease American forces” but was to “allow for its [sic] withdrawal from Iraq”.

An adviser to Maliki, Sadiq Rikabi, also told the Washington Post that Maliki was insisting on specific timelines for each stage of the US withdrawal, including the complete withdrawal of troops.

The Iraqi prime minister’s July 19 interview with the German magazine Der Speigel, in which he said that Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama’s 16-month timetable “would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes”, was the Iraqi government’s bombshell in response to the Bush administration’s efforts to pressure it on the bases issue.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack emphasized at his briefing on Tuesday that the issue would be determined by “a conclusion that’s mutually acceptable to sovereign nations”.

That strongly implied that the Bush administration regarded itself as having a veto power over any demand for withdrawal and signals an intention to try to intimidate Maliki.

Both the Bush administration and the US military appear to harbor the illusion that the US troop presence in Iraq still confers effective political control over its clients in Baghdad.

However, the change in the Maliki regime’s behavior over the past six months, starting with the prime minister’s abrupt refusal to go along with General David Petraeus’ plan for a joint operation in the southern city of Basra in mid-March, strongly suggests that the era of Iraqi dependence on the US has ended.

Given the strong consensus on the issue among Shi’ite political forces of all stripes, as well as Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Shi’ite spiritual leader, the Maliki administration could not back down to US pressure without igniting a political crisis.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.

(Inter Press Service)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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RRN: Gareth Porter: The Iraq war debate

Decoding Obama on Iraq by Anthony Arnove

Iraq

US & Iraq Agree To Set Vague Goals On Hopeful Drawndown Of US Troops Perhaps In Some Kind Of Future

Satire

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post

July 19, 2008

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have agreed to set a “time horizon” for reducing U.S. forces in Iraq. “This is not a timetable or timeline for unsurging our troops,” said Bush. “It is a time horizon, like horizon wireless where you have a minutes limit but you can go over it if you need to.”

After citing a decrease in violence in Iraq in the last month, Maliki had expressed a strong desire to set a time table for US troops to leave and allow his government to take over. “I was insisting on letting us run our own country,” Maliki said, “but I got, how you say, an offer I could not be refusing from the esteemed Vice President Cheney.”

“We did have a little face off after we went hunting for some common ground,” Cheney said, “of course, it wasn’t going to be my face off.”

In a secure video shown on Youtube, Myspace and Facebook, Bush and Maliki agreed that there could be discussions of reducing the number of US troops when, as Bush stated, “the propaganda has succeeded in telling us that we no longer need such a large troop surgery over there.”

“There will be no arbitrary time set for removal of US troops,” said Presidential Press Secretary Dana Perino. “Any troops will be removed only when the decider decides.”

see

Obama outlines policy of endless war + Obama’s Speech

Countdown: McCain Leaking Obama’s Travel Plans + Goals vs Timelines In Iraq

Memo to Obama, McCain: No One Wins in a War By Howard Zinn

Nouri al-Maliki ready to oust US from Iraq green zone

Dandelion Salad

Marie Colvin in Baghdad
The Sunday Times
July 13, 2008

The green zone of Baghdad, a highly fortified slice of American suburbia on the banks of the Tigris river, may soon be handed over to Iraqi control if the increasingly assertive government of Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, gets its way.

A senior Iraqi government official said this weekend the enclave should revert to Iraqi control by the end of the year. “We think that by the end of 2008 all the zones in Baghdad should be integrated into the city,” said Ali Dabbagh, the government’s spokesman.

“The American soldiers should be based in agreed camps outside the cities and population areas.

…continued

h/t: CLG

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Bush to Iraq: We Don’t Care What You Want

Dandelion Salad

jperryam

Iraq is now demanding a firm date for complete withdrawal of all foreign troops before they will sign a security agreement with the Bush administration. Bushco is refusing, of course, because they truly don’t care about anybody’s objectives but their own. But what did the Pretender-in-Chief say back in April of 2007 during an Interview with Charlie Rose?

Just more Bushco propaganda, no doubt.

Go here for the full video interview with Charlie Rose:
http://www.charlierose.com
Enter “George W. Bush” in the search box. Scroll 11 minutes into the video for the quote about leaving Iraq.

And here’s an interesting piece on this subject that I came across today:

Pull-out Demand Signals Final Bush Defeat in Iraq by Gareth Porter:
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnew…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

see

Legitimizing the Permanent Occupation of Iraq by Stephen Lendman

Sistani Opposes Iraq-US Security Deal

Legitimizing the Permanent Occupation of Iraq by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, July 9, 2008

Washington is currently negotiating two accords with the al-Maliki government to take effect after expiration of the UN’s military mandate on December 31. One agreement is for a long-term “strategic framework” to establish “cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and security fields.” Or according to the administration – to defend Iraq’s “sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, and airspace.”

The other is a so-called “status of forces agreement” (SOFA) to provide legitimacy for the US occupation beginning January 1, 2009. Following the 2003 invasion, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1511. It officially recognized the “Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)” and authorized a multinational force to bring “stability” to the country. Part of the agreement was for the mandate to be reauthorized each year. It’s been done “at the request of the Iraqi government.” By late 2007, al-Maliki asked for a mandate extension “for the last time” to officially end Iraq’s international peace and security threat designation that’s been in place since August 1990.

In November 2007, George Bush and al-Maliki signed a preliminary US – Iraq political, economic, and security agreement. Part of it is for an indefinite US military presence. Final completion was to be by July 31, 2008, but with the date fast approaching and widespread opposition, things may likely change.

For months, US plans generated considerable opposition – within and outside Iraq. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani objected. So has Iran and a majority of Iraqi parliamentarians who vowed to veto any agreement not approved by the country’s Council of Representatives. On May 29, they further said that any US – Iraq bilateral agreement must “obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq.” On May 28, Muqtada al-Sadr went further. He called for protests against the (“forces of darkness”) SOFA and issued orders to:

— raise awareness of its terms;

— unite political opposition against it;

— participate in weekly protests;

— hold a national referendum or if denied gather millions of opposition signatures;

— form political and religious delegations in opposition;

— set a timetable for the occupation’s end;

— inform the Iraqi government it has no right to sign an agreement; and

— to have the Hawza Shiite religious academy become more active and stand against an agreement that’s clearly against the interests of the Iraqi people.

Within the US, some in Congress object that George Bush claims authority as commander-in-chief to constitutionally bypass lawmakers and deal unilaterally with the Iraqi government. Others like Yale Law School Professors Oona Hathaway and Bruce Ackerman concur and believe the agreement “moves far beyond” traditional accords and must be subject to congressional review.

In a February 15, 2008 Washington Post.com op-ed, they state “The Bush administration is so intent on securing its legacy in Iraq that it is once again ignoring the Constitution….it is well on its way toward (deepening America’s) commitment without the congressional support the Constitution requires.”

They cite examples:

— exempting civilian contractors from prosecution under Iraqi laws; it assures their immunity elsewhere as well; current federal law “only subjects contractors working in support of the Defense Department to prosecution in American courts for felonies in Iraq;” civilian security forces (like Blackwater Worldwide), the State Department, CIA and others will be in a “no-law” status, subject only to the will of the president; civilians may thus commit murders, rapes, robberies, other lawless acts and get away with them; “no (known) existing status of forces agreement….contains anything like this wide-ranging exemption;”

— exempting military personnel as well who can be court-martialed but rarely are;

— allowing the president to exceed his constitutional authority as commander-in-chief; he’s only in charge of the military, “not all Americans working overseas;”

— even worse, most administration plans are secret and what’s learned comes out in leaks; more on that below; and

— Congress held hearings on January 23 and February 8 – “on the legitimate scope of the Iraqi agreement;” the administration refused to testify.

Hathaway and Ackerman conclude by calling for a congressional resolution “declaring invalid any military agreement (going) beyond the traditional (SOFA) limits.” No president may unilaterally bypass Congress. It’s “especially wrong for a lame-duck (one) to make such a (controversial) commitment (that’s) at the very center of the debate among the candidates vying to succeed him.”

On July 4, Imam Sadreddin al-Kabandji (an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani) issued a statement. It pressed the Baghdad government to hold a national referendum regarding US forces remaining in the country. Speaking for Iraq’s supreme Shiite leader, he stated: “The Iraqi nation regards with concern the Iraqi-American treaty whose contents are not exactly known….The treaty (must be made public and) presented to the people and the clergy.” It’s unacceptable that the government is negotiating with the Americans “behind closed doors.”

Status of Forces Agreements – An Explanation

The DOD’s Defense Technical Information Center web site explains a SOFA as follows:

— “an agreement that defines the legal position of a ‘visiting’ military force deployed in the territory of a friendly state.” It delineates “the status of visiting military forces (and) may be bilateral or multilateral. Provisions pertaining to the status of visiting forces may be set forth in a separate agreement, or they may form a part of a more comprehensive agreement. These provisions describe how the authorities of a visiting force may control members of that force and the amenability of the force or its member to the local law or to the authority of local officials. To the extent that agreements delineate matters affecting the relations between a military force and civilian authorities and population, they may be considered as civil affairs agreements.”

In his 2004 book, The Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson said this about SOFAs:

“America’s foreign military enclaves, though structurally, legally, and conceptually different from colonies, are themselves something like microcolonies in that they are completely beyond the jurisdiction of the occupied nation. The US virtually always negotiates a ‘status of forces agreement’ (SOFA) with the ostensibly independent ‘host’ nation” – a modern day version of 19th century China’s “extraterritoriality” granting foreigners charged with crimes the “right” to be tried by his (or her) own government under his (or her) own national law.

SOFA experts Rachel Cornwell and Andrew Wells added:

“Most SOFAs are written so that national courts cannot exercise legal jurisdiction over US military personnel who commit crimes against local people, except in special cases where US military authorities agree to transfer jurisdiction.” As a result, when crimes occur, the military can simply whisk offenders out of the country before local authorities can react or at least before they’re arrested.

As of September 2001, the Pentagon acknowledged SOFA agreements with only 93 countries. The total number is unknown but much higher. Some are too embarrassing to reveal, and many or most are kept secret. Overseas military bases aren’t colonial outposts in the traditional sense. They’re run by the DOD, CIA, NSA, DIA, and other official or secret state agencies. In September 2001, the Pentagon acknowledged the existence of 725 foreign bases. Today the number likely tops 1000. Further, DOD’s (2001) Manpower Report indicated that over one-quarter of a million military personnel were deployed in 153 countries. Those numbers also are higher with Iraq and Afghanistan forces approaching 200,000 and no imminent signs of a pullback.

Depending on their location, families may or may not accompany their military spouses, and as Johnson explains: “except in Muslim countries (at least so far) these bases normally attract impressive arrays of bars, brothels, and the criminal elements that operate them near their main gates.” As a result, bases “unavoidably usurp, distort, or subvert whatever institutions of democratic government may exist with the host society.” It’s a “recipe for the endless series of ‘incidents’ that plague (SOFA) nations (and easy to understand why) local residents get very tired of sexual assaults, drunken driving” and more serious crimes and abuses over which they have no control or chance for redress.

Reverse things and imagine how outraged US citizens would be if another country garrisoned troops close by with all the resultant fallout: besides murder, rape and other crimes, there’s unacceptable noise, pollution, environmental destruction, appropriation of valued public real estate, and unaccountable soldiers getting drunk, causing damage, ignoring local customs, speeding and accosting local women when they’re not raping or killing them.

It’s one reason why we don’t generally grant other nations basing rights here. So except for when foreign ships berth in our ports for short periods, US citizens never interact with another country’s military or experience the fallout from it.

In his newest book, Nemesis, Johnson explains how SOFAs work. They’re legal contractual “alliances” with other countries implementing mutually agreed on arrangements. They let us garrison US troops and civilian personnel – either on a new or existing facility. They’re based on “common objectives” and “international threats to peace.” In final form, they put US personnel as far as possible outside domestic law and spell out host country obligations to us. Except for our reciprocal NATO agreements, they also give our military and civilian personnel special privileges unavailable to ordinary citizens of host nations. Unlike western European countries with clout, most others are small, weak or occupied and have little muscle against our type bullying.

Then there are the above-cited SOFA problems. Is it surprising then that South Koreans, for example, object to our presence and a great deal more. A recent article reported tens of thousands on Seoul streets against President Lee Myung-bak in defiance of state repression threats. Their complaints are many and were triggered by the government’s decision to allow potentially tainted US beef imports.

An earlier article relates to this one. It explained how angry South Koreans are about US military unaccountability for nearly six decades. Americans “defame our national sovereignty and commit many crimes, but we can’t do anything about it except watch because of the unfair (SOFA).” Korean authorities have asked for remediating provisions. DOD granted virtually nothing. The same is true most elsewhere. Our reputation as a world-class bully is well deserved.

The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan – A SOFA Example

It was signed on January 19, 1960 with language intended to be reassuring. For example:

— to settle international disputes peacefully;

— work for international peace and security;

— “refrain….from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state (or do anything) inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations;” in the 1960s and 1970s, Southeast Asians were apparently exempted; today it’s Iraqis, Afghans and others;

— strengthen free institutions and promote stability and well-being;

— eliminate conflict;

— to protect Japan’s security and international peace in the Far East, America “is granted the use by its land, air and naval forces of facilities and areas in Japan” – to be governed by a “separate agreement” replacing the one signed in February 1952 and thereafter amended; and

— many other reassurances in 10 articles about which the people of Okinawa object.

It’s Japan’s poorest and most southerly prefecture – a sort of equivalent of America’s Puerto Rico. It’s also a battleground pitting Okinawans against Washington and their own government in Tokyo. An expert on the region, Chalmers Johnson, puts it this way: “the Japanese-American SOFA….shield(s) (US) military felons from the application of Japanese law.” It’s the same type “unequal treaty” imposed on Japan after Commodore Perry’s 1853 armed incursion.

But it didn’t deter Donald Rumsfeld in 2003. In meeting with Japanese officials, he “press(ed) anew for the Japanese government to relent on a long-standing US demand for fuller legal protections (for our forces) accused of crimes while serving in Japan.” Most often, it means committing them against Okinawans where the majority of them are based – plus their families and civilian DOD employees.

Okinawa is an extreme example because it’s small and America uses 19% of its choicest real estate. Yet it’s typical of what happens everywhere US forces are based in varying degrees. Johnson calls it “American military imperialism….easily reproduced in Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Kuwait, Qatar, Diego Garcia, and elsewhere, and more recently Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Iraq.”

It augurs ill for the continued occupation of Iraq as a war zone. Since August 1990, the 1991 Gulf war, 12 years of sanctions, and the current Iraq war, America has disdained Iraqi interests, its welfare, culture, religion and lives. The country is occupied against the will of its people. Resistance has been continuous and fierce; human suffering immense; the death, injury, displacement and illness tolls unimaginable. Reassuring Iraqis of our benign intentions henceforth is impossible. Continued conflict is guaranteed plus all the resultant fallout Okinawans and other host nations face.

Take what outrages Okinawans most after decades of occupation – the SOFA-related article 17 covering criminal justice. It states: “The custody of an accused member of the United States armed forces or the civilian component (shall) remain with the United States until he is charged.” It hamstrings Japanese investigators and denies them exclusive access until or unless suspects are indicted in court. As a result, prosecutors are reluctant to press charges because they can’t get evidence for trial.

Examples on the island are frequent, but one was particularly grievous. In September 1995, two marines abducted a 12-year old girl, beat and raped her, left her on a beach, and returned to their base in a rented car. In October, 85,000 Okinawans protested. They demanded redress after the US military refused to let local police take custody.

Imagine the situation in Iraq where US military, Blackwater, and other security forces are unaccountable. In the case of Blackwater, it’s “the world’s most powerful mercenary army,” has friends in high places, and employs “some of the most feared professional killers” anywhere. It operates outside the law, is protected by the Pentagon, and freely practices street violence. A SOFA will legalize it taking any possibility for redress off the table.

US – Iraq SOFA – Leaked Information

In late June, the Arabic newpaper, Awan, leaked 20 pages of the draft proposal. The web site roadstoiraq.com highlighted parts of it and noted a color-coded way of citing what’s agreed on, not yet agreed on, and major differences. Below is a brief account of what it says:

— attacking other countries from Iraq ‘isn’t’ prohibited;

— provisions governing the presence and activities of US forces, private contractors and US employees are identified;

— activities agreed on include: “operations and training, transit, support and related activities, aerial refueling, maintenance of vehicles, ships and airplanes, providing suitable residences for employees and their workplaces, mobilizing forces and materials storage, and other goals and activities” to be later agreed on;

— the US and Iraq “desire” for provisions to be “temporary;”

— the agreement will support security and defense relations between the two countries “after the end of the transitional period….and peace will exist;”

— unnamed provisions “postponed for now until later development;”

— “detained members of the (US military) and civilian (contractors and employees shall be) delivered to the American forces;” the US military may also detain Iraqis;

— “the Iraqi government authorizes the civilian elements to use force against others in case of self-defense; there will be no issue of juridical prosecutions;”

— Iraq won’t “invite a third country or international organization for logistic-support, training or (to aid) Iraqi security forces;” the Iraqi negotiator wants this provision removed;

— “both sides seek regular consultation” at the political and military levels on defense and security cooperation;

— issues of concern: Iraq’s ability to secure its borders; training, supplying, establishing and developing Iraqi security forces’ logistics, administration, and infrastructure; strengthening them as well; improving joint military cooperation, training, and exchange of expertise, academics, information and other military activities; and

— the US ambassador commented obliquely that the “executive agreement is under the president’s authorization; any pledge (involving US forces) and spending American money requires an agreement authorized by Congress; in the current US internal political situation, Congress unlikely will agree with this (so) the executive agreement will establish a suitable situation that can be developed in the future;” he’s saying the president will act unilaterally and do as he pleases; Congress and Iraqis will be powerless;

The above information is very sketchy, but the issues are clear. Iraq is occupied, and a state of war exists. The Iraqi president and parliament are impotent. The Bush administration will pressure or bypass Congress and implement what it wishes. Another possibility is getting the Security Council to extend the current mandate. Either way, a new president in 2009 will enforce it. The Iraqi people are entirely left out. Iraqi officials may insist on their rights, and Washington may nominally agree in principle. But past agreements show how this one will be managed. Language will be vague and deceptive so, in the end, it’ll be business as usual. Whatever Washington wants it will get. The Iraq government provides only fig leaf cover. The security accords are to provide international legitimacy once the UN mandate expires on December 31.

Indefinite occupation is planned and to be enforced by dozens of permanent military bases, including at least five mega-ones. On June 5, Patrick Cockburn reported in the London Independent that “Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors.” Regardless of the November election, US personnel are currently immune under Paul Bremer’s CPA Order 17, and a secret deal is being negotiated to make US occupation indefinite on Washington’s terms.

Besides permanent bases and immunity from Iraqi law (largely written by Washington), the deal gives US military forces a free hand. It lets them carry out operations inside Iraq, presumably anywhere in the region as well, and grants the right to arrest Iraqis. Cockburn states: this “will destabilise Iraq’s position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.” Deal or no deal, that’s assured as long as Iraq is occupied against the will of its people.

So far it continues because the country’s most influential (Shiite) religious leader hasn’t intervened. Should Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani choose to, all bets are off. Iraq is largely Shia and al-Sistani greatly revered. In 2003, he forced US authorities to allow a referendum on a new constitution and a parliamentary election. He publicly opposes the SOFA unless four conditions are met according to a June 7 Iran Radio report cited on University of Michigan professor Juan Cole’s Informed Comment web site – “transparency, defending national governance, national consensus, and approving the agreement by the Iraqi parliament.”

The report (without attribution) also claimed Washington pledged $3 billion in bribes to win over Iraqi lawmakers – or around $11 million per parliamentarian and a tough offer to refuse if true. If they balk, the alternative may sway them – squeezing the country and officials in multiple ways, including blocking release of $50 billion in Iraqi oil revenue assets. They’re from the earlier sanctions period and now on deposit at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

Consider the latest, however, on a saga taking many twists and turns and no clear resolution in sight. In a July 7 news conference, al-Maliki surprised attendees. He said chances for a security pact are practically nil given the amount of internal opposition to it. Instead, he’ll seek a limited (“memorandum of understanding”) extension of the current mandate. And with no suggestion of numbers, he’ll also link it to a US force withdrawal timetable.

On July 8, al-Maliki’s National Security Advisor, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, said Iraq is waiting “impatiently for the day when the last foreign soldier leaves” the country and wants firm dates for withdrawal. Getting them is another matter and statements mean little without actions. From the G-8 summit, George Bush’s response means plenty, and it shows what Iraqis are up against: “It is important to understand that these are not talks on a hard date for a withdrawal.”

Then there’s al-Sistani to be reckoned with, a man even Bush takes seriously. If he gets more vocal and means it, the coming months will prove interesting. Yet he’s caught on the horns of a dilemma. US support let Shias win majority control of parliament. On the other hand, Washington runs everything so control is only nominal. It remains to be seen if al-Sistani comes around to that view and draws the line on the SOFA and other security measures. Maybe on the oil giveaway as well, a topic for a separate article.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9506

© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9540

see

Sistani Opposes Iraq-US Security Deal

Sistani Opposes Iraq-US Security Deal

Dandelion Salad

By Press TV
ICH
07/09/08 “Press TV

Iraq’s most senior cleric voices opposition to a proposed security deal with the US, saying such a deal would threaten Iraq’s sovereignty.

In a meeting with Iraqi national security adviser Muwaffaq Al-Rubaie on Tuesday, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani expressed his concerns over the security deal by calling it an excuse that will justify the presence of US forces in Iraq.

Ayatollah Sistani had earlier noted that any long-term pact with the US should observe four key terms: safeguarding Iraqis’ interests, national sovereignty, national consensus, and parliament approval.

On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki suggested a timetable for the departure of US forces from Iraq.

However, Washington played down calls for a firm withdrawal deadline, saying any pullout will be based on the conditions on the ground.

“We’re looking at conditions, not calendars here,” State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said on Tuesday.

Baghdad and Washington are negotiating a treaty that would allow the American troops to stay in Iraq after their mandate under the UN expires in December 2008.

The controversial security deal has faced fierce opposition from Iraqi religious and political figures who believe the deal would turn the country into a US colony.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

U.S. Military Hoped for Virtually Unlimited Freedom of Action in Iraq

Dandelion Salad

06/20/08 “ICH
www.nsarchive.org

Posted – June 13, 2008
For more information contact:
Joyce Battle – (202) 994-7145

Drafting of U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement Began Nearly Five Years Ago

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 252

Washington D.C., June 13, 2008

Recently declassified documents show that the U.S. military has long sought an agreement with Baghdad that gives American forces virtually unfettered freedom of action, casting into doubt the Bush administration’s current claims that their demands are more limited in scope.  News reports have indicated that the Bush administration is exerting pressure on the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to accept a U.S.-Iraq security plan by the end of July 2008.  According to these accounts, the plan would give the U.S. more than 50 military bases in Iraq, provide complete freedom of action to conduct military operations, allow complete freedom to arrest and detain Iraqis, and grant U.S. forces and contractors total immunity from Iraqi law.  Growing awareness of the implications of the pact have fueled opposition by the Iraqi public – to the extent that Prime Minister al-Maliki announced today that discussions had deadlocked.

Documents obtained by the National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the U.S. started drafting the agreement in November 2003.  While information available in the heavily redacted copies that were provided does not specifically address such hot-button, present-day issues as the number and location of bases, or control of airspace, these preliminary planning documents show that from the outset U.S. aspirations for conducting military operations based in Iraq were essentially without limit.

The Bush administration had initially hoped to see the security pact accepted by an interim Iraqi Governing Council that it itself had appointed.  The documents outline a number of “red lines” that the Defense Department and the Central Command considered crucial during the early planning, including unlimited authority to conduct military operations; the “absolute” prerogative to detain, interrogate and intern Iraqis; the right to establish its own rules of engagement; complete freedom of movement entering, departing, and within Iraq; full immunity for U.S. forces and contractors; immunity from international tribunals; and exemption from inspections, taxes, and duties.

“When it developed its initial plans for a security pact, the U.S. wanted virtually unlimited freedom of action for its forces – including private contractors,” said Archive analyst Joyce Battle.  “In addition to freedom to wage military operations as it saw fit – and to arrest, detain, and interrogate Iraqis at will – U.S. demands even extended to priority use of public utilities.  This was after the invasion had led to the collapse of Iraq’s already fragile infrastructure and Iraqi civilians – old and young, healthy, sick, and disabled – were getting by with a few hours of electricity a day – if they were lucky.”

Looks Like San Remo All Over Again – The U.S. Status of Force Agreement for Iraq, 2008

Recently declassified documents show that the U.S. military has long sought an agreement with Baghdad that gives American forces virtually unfettered freedom of action in – and possibly around – Iraq. This new information appears to run counter to Bush administration claims that U.S. intentions have been more limited in scope.

According to recent news accounts, the Bush administration is exerting pressure on Iraq to accede to a military agreement – before a U.N. resolution authorizing the U.S. occupation lapses, and before the end of President Bush’s tenure – on terms highly favorable to the United States.  Information reported by Patrick Cockburn of the Independent indicates that the deal under discussion calls for:

  • Indefinite perpetuation of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, whether a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House
  • More than 50 permanent U.S. bases in Iraq
  • U.S. carte blanche to conduct military operations and to arrest Iraqis and anyone else in Iraq without consulting the Iraqi government
  • Immunity from Iraqi law for U.S. forces and private contractors
  • Control of Iraq’s airspace below 29,000 feet
  • Unlimited freedom to pursue the “war on terror” through operations in Iraq. (Note 1)

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Revealed: Secret Plan to Keep Iraq Under US Control by Patrick Cockburn

Dandelion Salad

by Patrick Cockburn
Global Research, June 5, 2008
The Independent (UK)

Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors.

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq’s position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.

But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.

The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal.

America currently has 151,000 troops in Iraq and, even after projected withdrawals next month, troop levels will stand at more than 142,000 – 10 000 more than when the military “surge” began in January 2007. Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.

The precise nature of the American demands has been kept secret until now. The leaks are certain to generate an angry backlash in Iraq. “It is a terrible breach of our sovereignty,” said one Iraqi politician, adding that if the security deal was signed it would delegitimise the government in Baghdad which will be seen as an American pawn.

The US has repeatedly denied it wants permanent bases in Iraq but one Iraqi source said: “This is just a tactical subterfuge.” Washington also wants control of Iraqi airspace below 29,000ft and the right to pursue its “war on terror” in Iraq, giving it the authority to arrest anybody it wants and to launch military campaigns without consultation.

Mr Bush is determined to force the Iraqi government to sign the so-called “strategic alliance” without modifications, by the end of next month. But it is already being condemned by the Iranians and many Arabs as a continuing American attempt to dominate the region. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful and usually moderate Iranian leader, said yesterday that such a deal would create “a permanent occupation”. He added: “The essence of this agreement is to turn the Iraqis into slaves of the Americans.”

Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is believed to be personally opposed to the terms of the new pact but feels his coalition government cannot stay in power without US backing.

The deal also risks exacerbating the proxy war being fought between Iran and the United States over who should be more influential in Iraq.

Although Iraqi ministers have said they will reject any agreement limiting Iraqi sovereignty, political observers in Baghdad suspect they will sign in the end and simply want to establish their credentials as defenders of Iraqi independence by a show of defiance now. The one Iraqi with the authority to stop deal is the majority Shia spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In 2003, he forced the US to agree to a referendum on the new Iraqi constitution and the election of a parliament. But he is said to believe that loss of US support would drastically weaken the Iraqi Shia, who won a majority in parliament in elections in 2005.

The US is adamantly against the new security agreement being put to a referendum in Iraq, suspecting that it would be voted down. The influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on his followers to demonstrate every Friday against the impending agreement on the grounds that it compromises Iraqi independence.

The Iraqi government wants to delay the actual signing of the agreement but the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney has been trying to force it through. The US ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, has spent weeks trying to secure the accord.

The signature of a security agreement, and a parallel deal providing a legal basis for keeping US troops in Iraq, is unlikely to be accepted by most Iraqis. But the Kurds, who make up a fifth of the population, will probably favour a continuing American presence, as will Sunni Arab political leaders who want US forces to dilute the power of the Shia. The Sunni Arab community, which has broadly supported a guerrilla war against US occupation, is likely to be split.

© Copyright Patrick Cockburn, The Independent (UK), 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9204

US and Iran: Is an Iraq grand bargain possible? (vid; Porter)

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

More at http://therealnews.com/c.ph…
Gareth Porter part 4: Iraq regime torn between US and Iran; the US wants a deal, but on its own terms…

see

Washington’s conflicting strategies on Iran (video; Porter) Part I

Iran, US and the possibility of war (video; Porter) Part II

Iran’s role as a regional power (video; Porter) Part III