Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ?
|Subject: Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ? Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:24 pm|| |
Negotiations on the withdrawal of the US from Iraq are not proving straightforward. Is there any serious prospect of an end to the occupation by 2011?
|Negotiations between the US and the Iraq government have again reached a sticking point. The Iraqis want full withdrawal of all troops. The US want to leave. Last week, US and Iraqi officials said the two sides had agreed tentatively to a schedule which included a broad pullout of combat forces by the end of 2011 with a residual US force remaining behind to continue training and advising the Iraqi security forces.|
But Mr Maliki’s remarks today suggested that the Iraqi government is still not satisfied with that arrangement.
“There can be no treaty or agreement except on the basis of Iraq’s full sovereignty,” Mr Maliki told a gathering of tribal sheikhs.
He said such an agreement must be based on the principle that “no foreign soldier remains in Iraq after a specific deadline, not an open time frame”.
US president George Bush has long resisted a timetable for pulling out troops from Iraq, even under heavy pressure from a nation distressed by American deaths and discouraged by the length of the war that began in 2003.
But that has somewhat softened recently, with the Bush administration now speaking about “time horizons”. But even “time horizons” now appears unacceptable to Mr Maliki’s government. “We find this to be too vague,” a close Maliki aide said. “We don’t want the phrase ’time horizons’. We are not comfortable with that phrase,” said the aide. Another top Maliki aide said the Iraqi government has “stopped talking about the withdrawal of combat troops. We just talk about withdrawals”, including trainers and logistics troops.
In his address, Mr Maliki also suggested that the question of granting immunity to US military personnel or contractors continued to be a sticking point in the negotiations. In one key part of the draft agreement, private US contractors would be subject to Iraqi law but the Americans are holding firm that US troops would remain subject exclusively to US legal jurisdiction.
Mr Maliki said that his country could not grant “open immunity” to Iraqis or foreigners because that would be tantamount to a violating the “sanctity of Iraqi blood”. He did not elaborate.
Another Maliki aide said Iraq remained adamant that the last American soldier must leave Iraq by the end of 2011 – regardless of conditions at the time. The agreement had been scheduled to be concluded by the end of last month. No new date has been set, but the two Maliki aides said a final draft was now available to the political leaderships in Baghdad and Washington. One of the two said a breakthrough was not expected before next month.
Last edited by cactus flower on Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
|Subject: Re: Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ? Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:55 pm|| |
There is still no agreement between the US and the Iraqi government on terms for a (conditional) US pull out.
The US are accusing Government members who are resisting their terms of taking money from the Iranians. The Iraquis say that the US is accusing anyone who won't take American bribes of taking money from Iran.
Iraq was already forced by the UK and US to accept enforced terms in the 1930s and 1950s and there is no stomach for another one. It seems unlikely that the current government would survive a US withdrawal. It's not surprising that these negotiations are proving long drawn out.
Last edited by cactus flower on Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:48 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : edit in italic cf)
|Subject: Re: Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ? Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:22 am|| |
Does anyone know how the handover of authority for the various Sunni militias to the goverment is going? It's the big test of the Surge's political success.
|Subject: Re: Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ? Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:44 pm|| |
A majority of the Iraqi parliament has voted for an amended "Sofa" pact under which the US will supposedly completely withdraw the troops from Iraq by 2012. Some significant concessions from the original deal were won by the Iraqis, but there are of course serious questions over the good faith of the US.
The pact will govern some 150,000 US soldiers stationed in 400 bases across Iraq [AFP] Iraq's parliament has approved a security pact that allows US troops to stay in Iraq for three more years. The pact was approved by 144 members of the 198 who attended the session of the 275-member assembly, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the parliament speaker, said on Thursday.
Under the deal, US forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009 and leave the entire country by January 1, 2012. The vote in favour of the pact was backed by the ruling coalition's Shia and Kurdish blocs, as well as the largest Sunni Arab bloc which had demanded concessions for supporting the deal.
The 18-page agreement takes effect when the UN mandate now governing the troops expires on December 31.
It will end the 2003 invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein, then the Iraqi president, and plunged the country into chaos.
The agreement had already been approved by the cabinet a week ago. The measure would govern some 150,000 US troops stationed in over 400 bases currently under a UN mandate, giving the Iraqi government veto power over virtually all of their operations.
The agreement is similar to so-called Status of Forces Agreements (Sofa) concluded with other US allies, but marks a major turning point in the relations between the two countries. It is effectively a coming-of-age for the Iraqi government, which drove a hard bargain with Washington, securing a number of concessions - including a hard timeline for withdrawal - over more than 11 months of tough negotiations.
Iraq has also won the right to search US military cargo and the right to try US soldiers for crimes committed while they are off their bases and off-duty.
The agreement also requires that US troops obtain Iraqi permission for all military operations and that they hand over the files of all detainees in US custody to the Iraqi authorities, who will decide their fate. The pact also forbids US troops from using Iraq as a launch-pad or transit point for attacking another country, which may reassure Syria and Iran, according to the official Arabic version of the pact, translated by AFP.
"That is where Prime Minister [Nuri] al-Maliki won," Hoda Abdel Hamid, Al Jazeera's Iraq correspondent, said.
"He got more of what the Iraqis wanted."
But the English version has not been made public, and US officials in Washington said there may be a dispute between the two sides over the interpretation of certain parts of the agreement.
"It's all in the wording, but it's also in the translation," Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst.
"In so many ways we have just moved from international status to a bilateral status where America with 150,000 soldiers and 400 bases will probably be able to dictate the interpretation of this agreement."
The vote came after a flurry of last-minute negotiations in which the main Sunni parties secured a package of political reforms from the government and a commitment to hold a referendum on the pact in the middle of next year.
Should the Iraqi government decide to cancel the pact after the referendum it would have to give Washington one year's notice, meaning that troops would be allowed to remain in the country only until the middle of 2010.
|Subject: Re: Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ? Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:32 pm|| |
Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation:
Secular and nationalist opponents of the Baghdad regime of Nouri al-Maliki failed, and spectacularly so, to block the US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and their failure is not a surprise. The ruling alliance of Shiite religious parties and Kurds, who moved forward with the tacit support of Iran, steamrollered opposition to the accord, which passed with at least 144 votes out of 198 members of parliament in attendance.
"A huge number of members left the country, supposedly on hajj [to Mecca] or for other reasons," said a leading Iraqi insider.
But, although the vote is a victory for Maliki, it says little about the future stability and security of the Iraqi state. And it says even less about the future of US-Iraq relations.
One important aspect of the back-and-forth among competing political blocs in advance of the vote is that Maliki felt compelled to make promises to the opposition about steps toward dealing with the many unresolved issues that threaten to explode Iraq in 2009.
A sharp-eyed analysis comes from Reidar Visser, research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and member of the Gulf Research Unit at the University of Oslo, who writes:
"Among the key demands [of the opposition] was a pledge by the government to work to reform the constitution and the political system of the country more generally, as well as committing to revisit the laws relating to the general amnesty law and the treatment of former Baathists and to work for the reintegration of the Awakening councils (al-sahwat) in the Iraqi security forces."
Still, though Maliki made concessions to the opposition to win their support (or at least their abstention) in the SOFA vote, in my opinion the Iraqi prime minister has no intention of fulfilling those promises. He continues to build his own power, strengthening his control over the Iraqi armed forces, and organizing paramilitary tribal councils in province after province that look like private, pro-Maliki militias. It bodes ill for the future. Adds Visser:
"Based on his past actions, it seems doubtful that Maliki realises the need to also abolish the system of sectarian domination through ethno-sectarian quotas, and without this kind of profound overhaul of the Iraqi system, an American withdrawal in the context of a Maliki government could mean a turn to greater authoritarianism or even covert or tacit Iranian support."
A highly placed Iraqi source told me that Maliki and Iran worked closely together, with the support of the Iranian-backed Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), to pass the SOFA:
"Everybody knows the game. Maliki spent months saying, 'No, no, no' to the SOFA, and then all of a sudden he said 'Yes.' He did that when Iran gave him the green light."
But the Iraqi source said that Maliki is also engaged in a deadly behind-the-scenes fight with ISCI for preeminence in the upcoming provincial elections (January 2009) and then the national parliamentary elections (December 2009), adding that Maliki is using his power as prime minister to build up the smallish Dawa party that he leads:
"Maliki is building up his tribal councils in order to support Dawa. He's putting his people in place everywhere. He's fired all of the inspector generals that checked his power in the ministries, replacing them with loyalists. He's cleaned up the oil ministry, and put his people in there. And he's lining up support among the generals."
So the underlying conflicts are unresolved. The Kurdish power grab in the north, around Kirkuk, and in border regions next to Kurdistan is careening towards a showdown that is likely to turn violent in 2009. The intra-Shiite tensions -- Dawa vs. ISCI vs. Muqtada al-Sadr's movement -- are also likely to get ugly. And the biggest problem of all is the power of the 100,000-strong Sunni Awakening movement. Despite Maliki's supposed concessions, he's not budging on bringing the Awakening and its allies into a power-sharing arrangement. That's a formula for renewed civil war, with Iran backing Maliki and Saudi Arabia and other Arab states backing the Sunnis and their allied tribes.
For Barack Obama, the pact need not tie his hands. He can withdraw US troops faster the pact calls for. By the same token, he can withdraw them more slowly than his promised 16-month timetable for evacuating all fifteen US combat brigades. Undoubtedly, Obama will get advice from the military, from Centcom commander David Petraeus, and from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (Obama's choice for the Pentagon) to slow the pace of withdrawal. They will also advise him to negotiate a post-2011 continuing US military presence in Iraq, despite the pact's deadline for a complete US withdrawal by then. It's all up for grabs.
What Maliki wants is for the United States to continue to build up his armed forces while allowing him free rein to consolidate political power at the expense of the nationalist and secular opposition. That's what Iran wants, too. It might be tempting for Obama to go along, but if he does, Iraq may explode. Of course, Iraq may explode whatever Obama does. But as he pulls US forces out, he'd better work hard to get Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other world and regional powers to help underwrite true reconciliation in Iraq. It's his only chance to avoid renewed civil war in Iraq.
|Subject: Re: Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ? Sun Dec 14, 2008 9:34 pm|| |
Video there of a greatful Iraqi throwing his shoes at George Bush as a farewell gift.
|Subject: Re: Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ? Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:03 pm|| |
The journalist is Muntazer al-Zaidi. There were big demonstrations in Iraq today calling for his release from jail.
|Subject: Re: Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ? Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:10 pm|| |
There have been demonstrations in Canada and across the Arab world for the release of Al-Zaidi. On his court appearance today the judge said he appeared to have been beaten.
On the face of it, shoe throwing seems to have had a bigger mobilising effect than suicide bombings. It has my vote, anyway.
|Subject: Re: Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ? Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:21 pm|| |
A large bronze sculpture of a shoe was unveiled in Tikrit today.
Yesterday the Iraqi government announced that the Blackwater "security" mercenaries would have to leave - in spite of the US having signed a new contract with them at the end of last year.
Will the US Pull Out of Iraq ? US - Iraq pact - Lost in Translation ?