Iran's newly elected Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani urged Iraqis to resist a pact under discussion to extend the US troop presence there beyond 2008. Read the entire article. If that last line doesn't make you laugh, you haven't been paying attention. Read the speech on the scale of Iranian involvement and Iraqi attitudes towards it by Col. H.R. McMaster here. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is facing growing opposition to a proposed security agreement that would set out how long American forces and military bases stayed in Iraq. Read the entire article.
Iraq's government is in the midst of negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which would provide the legal framework for any U.S. forces that operate inside Iraq after the end of the UN mandate in January. The elements that stand most opposed to such an agreement are Iran and its proxies.
The SOFA agreement currently under negotiation with Iraq is, in most respects, mundane. We have them with every country in which the U.S. has maintained forces. They are more coordinating documents than anything else, and, other than the unique SOFA agreement with NATO, they do not specify that any particular troop level will or must be maintained. Though important, SOFA agreements are themselves innocuous.
The NYT writes to claim that opposition to a SOFA agreement is "growing" inside Iraq, but the NYT does a very poor job of explaining the genesis of the opposition to such an agreement. Indeed, their assertion at one point that it is because the presence of U.S. troops is "demeaning and humiliating" is pure Sadrist / Iranian propaganda. And it is with Iran that the opposition to the SOFA agreement begins. Iran sees an American presence in Iraq as both dangerous and an impediment to its goal to dominate Iraq through militias beholden to Iran. As I wrote here, the mad mullah's worst nightmare in the long run would be an Iraq that would both respect the millenium old Shia tradition of quietism and offer the example to Iran's terrorized populace of a people living in a real democracy and with real freedoms.
Twice now, the senior levels of Iran's government have expressed opposition to any SOFA agreement or any U.S. forces remaining in Iraq. The latest came just yesterday from the new Speaker of the Majis, Ali Larinjani, as reported in FARS:
"The Iraqi nation should courageously resist the US security pact just as they have so far resisted the occupiers," Larijani said in a speech in the religious city of Qom on Thursday.
"The occupiers' withdrawal is the only way to implementing security in Iraq," he said, describing the military agreement as a "challenge threatening the Iraqi people and government."
Washington and Baghdad are negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement aimed at giving a legal basis to American troops in Iraq after December 31, when a UN mandate defining the current status of foreign forces expires.
. . . Iran strongly opposes the US military presence in its neighbor to the west, and has repeatedly stressed the need for a pullout of the US troops from its war-ravaged Muslim neighbor.
Tehran has always backed the Baghdad government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The NYT also ignores history that would be well remembered by all of our leadership. In the leadup to the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini regularly and grossly mischaracterized a SOFA agreement with the Shah to build anti-American sentiment and popular hatred of the Iranian regime. What appears to be coallescing is a page right out of Khomeini's playbook - only aimed this time at Iraq. And the NYT seems somewhat inclined to assist.
This today from the NYT:
Some senior Iraqi political leaders said they had serious concerns over the central issues under negotiation, including what sort of military operations and arrests of Iraqis the American troops could carry out without Iraq’s permission, legal immunities sought for American troops and security contractors and what the Iraqi officials characterized as demands for a long-term American military presence.
. . . A United States official familiar with the talks described as “completely false” the assertion that negotiators had sought any provisions for long-term American military garrisons in Iraq.
Nor have Iraqi negotiators signaled any desire to delay, the official said. “What we are hearing is that they want to move full steam ahead.”
The raw feelings that the negotiations engender among many Iraqis — who view the prospects of a long-term American troop presence as demeaning and humiliating — underscore the political risks the negotiations hold for Mr. Maliki’s government.
Tens of thousands of Shiites in Baghdad and southern Iraq who are loyal to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr denounced the negotiations in rallies after noon prayers on Friday, criticizing any pact that would allow American troops to establish a long-term presence in Iraq. “No America! No Israel!” demonstrators shouted in Sadr City, the Baghdad district that is Mr. Sadr’s base of power.
“This isn’t an Iraqi government, it’s an American government,” said Muhammad Mohsin, a 25-year-old laborer who attended prayers in Sadr City, where clerics delivered sermons condemning the negotiations and demonstrators later burned American flags. “The Americans keep pressuring Maliki to carry out what they want. The agreement will only serve the Americans’ interests.”
. . . But there are many Iraqi politicians who support the negotiations, including Sunni leaders who view an American military presence as a bulwark against what they fear could be an attempt by Shiite leaders backed by Iran to renew a sectarian grab for Baghdad and the mixed areas around the capital.
“We think that this agreement will guarantee the rights of Iraq and the United States,” said Adnan al-Dulaimi, a leader of Tawafiq, the largest Sunni political bloc. “If the American forces withdraw from Iraq before the right time, a state of chaos and civil war will ensue.”
. . . A second American official in Baghdad said that the Iraqis appeared to be unwilling to make any concessions before the provincial elections scheduled for later this year that would seem to voters to be too accommodating to the occupying forces. “They are playing hardball right now,” the official said.
American and Iraqi negotiators are far apart on a number of issues, said Mr. Adeeb and another senior lawmaker close to Mr. Maliki, Haider al-Abadi, in interviews on Friday.
The Americans want to continue to have “a free hand” to arrest Iraqis and carry out military operations, and they want authority for more than 50 long-term military bases, Mr. Adeeb said. He said that he doubted that a security pact along the lines sought by the Americans would pass in the Iraqi Parliament.
Mr. Abadi, another senior member of Dawa, said Americans were insisting on keeping control of Iraqi airspace and retaining legal immunity for American troops, contractors and private security guards.
The United States official familiar with the negotiations accused Iran of orchestrating a disinformation campaign to undermine the negotiations, saying, “This is Iran’s playbook.”
The official, who like others interviewed for this article requested anonymity because of the fluid nature of the negotiations, said the debate over what kinds of operations American troops could carry out without Iraqi permission “will be subject to constant revisions and review.” Troops right now are cooperating extensively with Iraqi security forces, and the “new mandate should reflect that fact,” the official said. . . .
Iran's newly elected Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani urged Iraqis to resist a pact under discussion to extend the US troop presence there beyond 2008.
Read the entire article. If that last line doesn't make you laugh, you haven't been paying attention. Read the speech on the scale of Iranian involvement and Iraqi attitudes towards it by Col. H.R. McMaster here.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is facing growing opposition to a proposed security agreement that would set out how long American forces and military bases stayed in Iraq.
Read the entire article.