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Iraq: Draft pact for continuing occupation

November 19, 2011
Saturday, October 18, 2008 – 11:00
By Tim Dobson

On October 15, the United States and Iraqi governments agreed on a draft security pact, which could result in US troops being withdraw from Iraqi cities by the middle of 2009 and from Iraq entirely by 2011.

However, it is still subject to the approval of the council of Iraqi leaders, the cabinet and the Iraqi parliament.

The pact, which is to replace the UN Security Council resolution enacted after the US-led 2003 invasion, has been subject to months of negotiations, with the Iraqi government seeking concessions, particularly on troop withdrawal dates and the immunity of US troops from prosecution.

Supporters of anti-occupation cleric Moqtada al Sadr, among others, have been holding weekly protests against the security pact.

Al Jazeera reported on August 22, “Thousands of Iraqis have marched in protest against an imminent US-Iraqi security agreement, saying it would turn the country into a colony of the US”.

A British Channel 4 News survey in March found that 70% of Iraqis wanted all troops out.

Sadr’s supporters in parliament, who hold 30 seats, have indicated they will vote against the pact: “As long as there is one American soldier on our land, we will not accept any pact and we will not vote for any agreement”.

An October 16 Associated Press report said that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki “can count on support from the main Kurdish parties but the positions of major Sunni and Shiite blocs is unclear”.

The US, weakened by the failure of the military occupations it leads in Iraq and Afghanistan, has had to offer concessions to the Iraqi government.

An October 16 report in the British Independent quoted Iraqi government official Ali Dabbagh as saying, “Inside their bases, they will be under American law. Iraqi judicial law will be implemented in case these forces commit a serious and deliberate felony outside their military bases and when off duty.”

Under the existing agreement, US soldiers are completely immune from prosecution. The new agreement will mean that US private contractors will no longer have immunity.

According to the AP report, “It would also give the Iraqis a greater role in U.S. military operations and full control of the Green Zone, the 3 1/2-square mile area of central Baghdad that includes the U.S. Embassy and major Iraqi government offices”.

However, the US has made it clear that the draft agreement doesn’t bind them to withdraw.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell was quoted in an October 16 Reuters article stating: “These are not ad hoc, willy nilly, arbitrary timelines, these are goals that … will only be followed if the conditions on the ground provide for it.”

In other words, the draft provides enough space for the US to continue the occupation indefinitely.

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