Government newspaper: Agreement could be "non-strategic" so as not to require parliamentary approval
The GreenZone newspaper AlSabaah says today (Saturday June 21) there is a move to "change" the aim of the current SOFA negotiations into something called a "framework of operation, " in order to avoid the requirement for parliamentary approval. Reporting on last week's video-conference between Maliki and Bush, the paper says in the story-headline: "Bush and Maliki study SOFA and move toward converting it into a 'framework of operation', and [something completely unrelated] there is support for inclusion of Iraq in the Gulf Cooperation Council."
The story begins like this:
The story begins like this:
In parallel with the efforts of Maliki to arrive at agreement with Washington on a joint security agreement that would not infringe on Iraqi sovereignty or on the interests of the Iraqi people, informed sources disclosed a move to sign a "framework of operation" pact, that would [include] certain obligations, but in a non-strategic form....And further down in the story, the reporter elaborates:
Foreign minister Zebari agreed [in Washington] with the American administration on finding a suitable solution for the pending issues in the way of an agreement that will respond to the current needs of both sides, and that will include sufficient flexibility to leave options open for subsequent governments. And in that respect an informed source told AlSabaah of a move to convert the security agreement into a "framework of operation" pact, to be signed between the Iraqi and American governments, that would set out mutual obligations in some matters, but that would not include long-term "strategic" cooperation. The source explained that strategic agreements have to be approved by the parliaments of the two countries, and "that is something that would be difficult to achieve in at the present time with respect to this agreement", in his words.The reporter's version of events is this: the "hope" was that the "announcement of principle" Maliki and Bush signed last November would be ratified by the end of July for implementation in January 2008, in order to regularize the presence of the American troops in Iraq, but in order to be effective this would have needed parliamentary approval. Given the political difficulty of that, so his story runs, the move now is to try and craft an agreement that would only be "operational" and not "strategic", leaving options open for subsequent governments. Of course, the Bush administration has already been claiming that the proposed agreement wouldn't bind future governments, and doesn't require American congressional approval, so it isn't clear whether the direction indicated in this AlSabaah article represents merely a marketing shift for the Iraqi market, on the theme that the agreement is so "non-strategic" that it doesn't require Iraqi parliamentary approval either, or whether there is any substance to it, in the form of a retreat from any of the American demands.