Thursday, March 01, 2007

Following another affront, a SCIRI leader calls for a security agreement with the US

Adel Abdul Mahdi, SCIRI leader, economist, comfortable addressing the Western think-tanks and among the IMF-groupies, was US ambassador Khalilzad's choice to be Prime Minister in the early-2006 negotiations (that were finally won by Nuri al-Malaki). Mahdi was elected one of Maliki's two vice-presidents (he had already been a vice-president in the so-called transitional government of Ibrahim al-Jaafari). A US ally if ever there was one.

Today Al-Hayat reports on strongly critical remarks by Mahdi on the subject of US-Iraqi security arrangements. The journalist writes:
[Mahdi] criticized the Americans for the slowness in arriving at a "security agreement" [his quotation marks, indicating a technical term, probably "status of forces agreement"] with the Iraqi government, and he warned there will be major damage in the event there isn't a distribution of authority between the two parties. This was in a message Mahdi directed to president Talabani, prime minister Maliki, vice-president Hashemi, and parliament president Mashhadani, following an event in which [the vice president's] plane was not allowed to land in Baghdad on February 21, on his return from Ankara.
Mahdi's pilot had been told the Baghdad civilian airport was closed, and he then wasn't permitted to land at a military airport either, so the plane was forced to return to Ankara. Mahdi says he later found the civilian airport wasn't closed, and there were problems respecting division of responsibilities between Iraqi and American officials. Mahdi said the event was an embarassment politically and in terms of sovereignty, and initially his office said the problem was a technical one, but subsequent investigation showed it wasn't; rather, it was a manifestation of "a problem we have often seen, namely the distribution of responsibilities between Iraq and America". He said the lack of definition of powers and responsibilities between the Iraqi and American sides has led to damaging cases of inability to investigate abuses, let alone to remedy them. And without an agreement defining the distribution of powers, the problem will only get worse, he said.

Mahdi said agreements in 2003 and 2004 were supposed to lead to an agreement of this type, but in fact they led nowhere. Moreover, he said, this was again raised by the Prime Minister late last year ahead of the "surge". Mahdi said: "In order that this affair of the plane-landing not be turned into another personal story [probably referring to the recent arrest of Hakim's son among other things], I recommend this issue be made a priority..."

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This posting dovetails with the oil agreement discussions that have been the subject of media and blogs. What, it seems to me, is missing from much of the oil discussions is emphasis on the fact that Iraqis do not seem to control Iraq; as the inability of a vice president to land his plane illustrates, and the implications that has for the oil agreement.

In the comments section of the “Just World News” blog Iraq expert Reidar Visser wrote: "Much of the current violence in Iraq is directed by a tiny group of professional terrorists and criminals, many of them with ties to outside Iraq." If this in fact is the case, than the oil agreement probably is pretty close to its final form, for it is being negotiated by a ‘fairly’ representative Iraqi government. However, if Visser is wrong and there is a major civil war going on for the control of Iraq, then we have to wait until the war is resolved and the victor’s Iraqi government is in place. The winner of that war may very well ‘tear up’ any agreement that they are not party to.

In short, if there is a civil war going on as opposed to “a few trouble makers”, than the issue of who controls and will benefit from Iraqi oil is a long way from being resolved. Indeed, if the mundane issue of who can land a plane in Iraq is a long way from being resolved, how can there be any confidence in an issue that will determine the nature of the whole Iraqi economy?

4:47 AM  
Blogger Nell said...

Al-Hayat: [Mahdi] criticized the Americans for the slowness in arriving at a "security agreement" [his quotation marks, indicating a technical term, probably "status of forces agreement"] with the Iraqi government

A status of forces agreement will mean the establishment of permanent U.S. bases. (Or "enduring" bases if you want to go with the U.S. government's euphemism.)

What more than one country has found is that 'tearing up' the SOFA agreement is very, very difficult once the bases are there, no matter what the political
changes in the local government.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nell writes:

“What more than one country has found is that 'tearing up' the SOFA agreement is very, very difficult once the bases are there, no matter what the political
changes in the local government.”

Agreed; however, those countries did not inflict significant military damage on the U.S. military. American generals are expressing concern about the long term damage that is being done to their armies. If this continues and the only way to get those armies out of Iraq is to bring an insurgent lead government to power, then the SOFA agreement, if not ‘torn up’, could be significantly modified and the oil agreement with it.

This is all speculative; but, it is not far fetched. Whomever these ‘insurgents’ are, it is a fact that the rate that they are inflicting damage on the American military is increasing. They are defeating virtually all weapons systems: shooting down Apache helicopters, blowing up Abrams tanks and Bradley vehicles, and soldier’s deaths and casualties are not abating, etc. They have shut down northern oil pipelines and significantly reduced southern output. If this continues SOFA and Oil agreements are not ‘carved in stone’ – seems to me.

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Rosemary said...

Did you even consider that this supposedly small group of "insurgents" is Iraqis protecting their homes and their people and trying to drive an occupying foreign army off of their soil and out of their country?

If the situation were reversed, what would YOU be doing, anonymous?

You are right on your main argument. The Iraqis are not in charge of much of anything. America and the Oil companies are the ones in charge.

1:51 AM  

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