More information about the Bush administration’s desire to sign a “security” agreement with Iraq came out this week. The agreement would grant the US continued use of more than 50 military bases, immunity to US troops and contractors, use of Iraqi airspace, power to arrest anyone it wants, and carte blanche to carry out any military activity it desires (including strikes against other countries from Iraq). In addition, it would place the Iraqi defense, interior, and national security ministries under American control for ten years.
The administration reportedly is pushing Iraq to sign the agreement by the end of July.
The “political hurdle” for the Bush administration is heavy opposition both among Americans and Iraqis. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is reportedly amongst those opposed to the plan. The powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also came out against the agreement, calling on his followers to demonstrate against the proposed deal.
A majority of members in the Iraqi parliament wrote to the US Congress to express their rejection of the proposal without a requirement for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. They also insisted that any such agreement should be ratified by the parliament as required by the Iraqi constitution.
The letter stated that “any international agreement that is not ratified by the Iraqi legislative power is considered unconstitutional and illegal, in accordance with the current rulings and laws of the Iraqi Republic.”
It added that “the majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq, in accordance with a declared timetable and without leaving behind any military bases, soldiers or hired fighters.”
It ended by saying, “The Iraqi Council of Representatives is looking to ratify agreements that end every form of American intervention in Iraq’s internal affairs and restore Iraq’s independence and sovereignty over its land.”
At a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing, two Iraqi lawmakers stated that no talks about a long-term security arrangement should take place until US forces are gone. Nadeem Al-Jaberi, a founder of the al-Fadhila Shi’ite party asked, “What are the threats that require U.S. forces to be there?” He added that “We are capable of solving our own problems” and let it be known that he favored a quick withdrawal of US forces. “The Iraqi government right now still does not have full rein of its sovereignty because of the thousands of foreign troops now on its land.” Khalaf Al-Ulayyan, a Sunni and founder of the National Dialogue Council agreed that any such talks should be preceded by a withdrawal of US forces.
Former president of Iran Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said “The essence of this agreement is to turn the Iraqis into slaves before the Americans, if it is sealed.” He vowed that “This will not happen. The Iraqi people, the Iraqi government and the Islamic nation will not allow it.” He warned that the deal would create a “permanent occupation.”
The part of the proposed agreement that would grant the US authority from the Iraqi government to attack any nation it wanted from Iraqi soil is undoubtedly particularly worrisome to the Iranian government.