The story of how the Bush administration is trying to push through an agreement with Iraq that would grant the US permanent military bases, control of Iraqi airspace, immunity for US troops and contractors, the ability to engage in any military actions they desire and to arrest and detain anyone they want was first reported by Patrick Cockburn in the Independent.
Since the story broke, the proposed deal has met with substantive opposition both among the Iraqi people and lawmakers. The Parliament wrote a letter to the US stating its opposition to any such “agreement” that would not have the force of law without being ratified by the government according to the Constitution.
Iran has also expressed its disapproval of the deal, saying that it would mean Iraq would become a slave state of the US. Iraqi President Maliki, who has also been resistant to the proposal, assured that Iraq would not be used as a base by the US to launch an attack against Iran.
In an effort to pressure the Iraqi government into accepting the deal, the US has threatened to withhold funds desperately needed for reconstruction and security, according to Cockburn. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the US froze Iraqi funds, which is still being held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, amounting to some $50 billion. It’s been protected by presidential immunity, and the US has threatened to extend its hold on the money rather than return it to Iraq unless the agreement is signed.
It’s being called an “agreement” because the Bush administration does not want to submit it either to the US Congress or to a referendum in Iraq, as would be required if it were regarded as a formal treaty. The fear is that overwhelming public opposition would result in the deal being squashed.
The Bush administration has continuously justified its presence in Iraq as an effort to bring democracy to the Middle East, which has been the dominant rational for the US presence since it was proven that Iraq in fact had no WMD, which had been the principle rational for the US invasion.