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Iraq Opposing US-Proposed Draft Security Agreement

05.06.2008 12:03

Yuri Veselov

Iraqi political establishment is involved in fierce disputes on the problem of signing a security cooperation agreement proposed by the USA. Under the expected agreement the American troops will stay in this country in any case.

Until recently a focus of the disputes was on the date of signing. Certain Iraqi ministers and public figures confirm that US Embassy to Baghdad and “visiting” officials of the State Department recently radically increased pressure on the Iraqi authorities in order to settle this complicated and sensitive problem before the presidential term of George Bush expires.

The Iraqi Government is still not in position to independently suppress activities of terrorist groups, numerous gangs of criminals, economic chaos and social instability in the country. The security forces and national army that could restore law and order are under formation, and therefore many remote areas remain under control of rebels.

Concerned over transition of the internal political confrontation into an open civil war, which in any case will entail intervention of neighboring countries and become a disaster for the state, the Iraqi authorities have to rely on foreign troops represented mainly by the Americans. Therefore the Baghdad government expressed its principal interest in signing such a treaty with Washington before the end of this year.

Simultaneously the power does not want to assume sole responsibility for establishment of close and long-standing cooperation with the United States, which evil image was cultivated by the official propaganda machine of the Saddam Hussein’s regime for a long time. In this connection, the Iraqi rulers promise to submit the draft treaty with the USA for “all-people’s discussion”, and agree it in detail with the Parliament and “friendly” Arab states.

As for the Iraqi people, they are sick and tired of the war and senseless fighting for power between local religious groups, of numerous bloody acts of revenge and “retaliation”, which result in death of innocent people. According to approximate estimates, from the beginning of the war in 2003 the population decreased by 25 per cent. Each family has somebody killed in action or murdered by terrorists. Many Iraqis left their Motherland, and currently lead a dog’s life in neighboring Arab countries.

Therefore the overwhelming majority of population believes that all their miseries are caused not by the overthrown regime of Saddam Hussein but by the war and imperial policy of Washington aimed at capture and long-term exploitation of the national natural resources. However they pin their hopes on the assistance promised by Europe and surely USA.

Yet, in spite of the negative attitude to the American policy in the region Muktada as-Sadr, a leader of the Iraqi Shiah community and Member of Parliament, recently claimed that “it is necessary to satisfy ourselves of genuineness of the America’s intentions to render assistance to Iraqis in provision of Iraq’s national security”.

"Earlier I called the US military presence an occupation of Iraq, and we need time so that the society change and forget this opinion”, he said. At the same time, he added that “it is not excluded that signing the treaty would need a permission of “Fetwa” (Supreme Shiah Council) residing in the city of Qoum (Iran)”.

The Sunnite stand with respect to the expected arrangements with the Americans is softer and pragmatic. They speak for establishment of temporary parameters of the American military presence in order to use it for formation of security forces and national army, guaranteed provision of security for the Sunnite community and restoration of their influence on the national politics and economy.

At a meeting with Iraqi Premier Nuri Al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad on June 1, 2008 US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker submitted a draft agreement on bilateral cooperation in provision of security prepared by the US State Department experts. The document was handed over for familiarization to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, and two days later media outlets in spite of its obvious confidentiality received information on the content of the document and response of Baghdad.

Probably, there was never such a derogatory and rightless document in the history of Iraq. The majority of its provisions was rejected by Iraqis. One top-ranking official of the government described the treaty as “a complete violation of civil freedoms and international practice”.

The American side proceeds from the fact that it is the US Army that “overthrew to the dictatorship regime and today bears the main burden of peace provision and war on terror in the country”. On this basis Washington “may be entitled to demand from Baghdad significant preferences for the right of US military presence for provision of peace and stability in Iraq”. .

Therefore the American draft treaty stipulates the following:

- provision for increase of the US military contingent by 29 thousand men, establishment several additional military bases and in case of need construction of additional infrastructure facilities for the American troops;

- receipt of guarantees of free land, aerospace and naval operations of the US troops in Iraq without notification of its government;

- the right of self-dependent arrests and imprisonment of any Iraqi citizen suspected by Americans of a threat to security;

- provision the US Command with the right to conduct special operations and other counter-terrorist actions in any part of the country without notification of the Iraqi government;

- judicial immunity of American militaries, security officers and civil staff from the Iraqi jurisdiction.

In the draft document the Americans even do not try to specify the number of their bases reserving the right to independent selection of their location and number in the Iraqi territory.

Therefore the actual Iraqi leadership even in spite of foreign dependence and tragicalness of its position had to put forward counter demands to the treaty. In the opinion of Nuri Al-Maliki the bilateral cooperation agreement should be identical to the treaty between the USA and Turkey that clearly determines the terms and conditions of the US military presence and activities.

The Iraqi side is going to do its best to include in the draft document a fundamental provision that would confirm territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of the state, guaranteed non-interference of the USA in the internal affairs of Iraq, and recognition of the Iraqi government a sole executive authority of the country. Iraqis will demand from Americans a package of agreements that would stipulate the number and locations of the US military facilities in Iraq, all spheres of military activities and logistic and financial support of the troops, legal rights and liabilities of US militaries.

The documents should also stipulate prohibition of self-dependent arrests and imprisonment of Iraqis by Americans without permission of the national government. The Iraqi authorities will give the clearance in each particular case for the use of the land, aerospace and sea areas by the American troops as well as for movements of military convoys.

All special operations and counter terrorist actions should be conducted only upon agreement with the Iraqi Government and receipt of its permission. In their activities outside military facilities American militaries should be governed by the Iraqi laws and bear criminal liability for their breach in judicio of the host country.

The Iraqi Government intends to insist on an annual payment of compensation by the USA for the use of Iraqi land, and control over receipts and expenses of military facilities by placing their accounts in the National Bank.

Iraqis will annually renew their consent to the presence of the US military bases in their country. Any construction of new American military facilities may be conducted only at the request or by the permission of the Iraqi Government.

Iraqis believe that all disputes between the parties may be settled in the respective international arbitration tribunals and UN Security Council.

So, Iraq and USA actually started agreeing upon their positions with respect to the expected Treaty on Cooperation in Provision of Security. The present draft document causes irritation of the Iraqi establishment demanding radical revision of certain clauses. Meanwhile the parties agreed with the need to adjust the document in order to elaborate a common approach to its concept.

In early June 2008 Iraq reached principal agreement with France on signing a bilateral strategic partnership agreement stipulating military and military-technical cooperation.