Saturday, June 21, 2008

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:
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.


Anonymous Alex said...

It is obvious that the SOFA is not going to be put before the Iraqi parliament. There is not a hope in hell of it passing. It was only question of when and how the news would come out. (No doubt it will not be put before the US Senate either.)

The interesting point is whether the SOFA will be de-legitimised by these manoeuvres. Personally, I think it will be harder to enforce, if the ratification steps are skipped. It can be thrown out at any moment. Or ignored.

I think the US needs something stronger to protect the "permanent" bases. I doubt that the US will be able to maintain perfect control over the Iraqi regime for the next 100 years, as McCain puts it.

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Shirin said...

Can we please not call this abomination a SOFA when it is designed and intended to give the U.S. imperial powers? If we call this a SOFA, then we need to cal shock and awe strokes and caresses.

And mark my words, if Obama wins the election he will keep in place whatever facts on the ground Bush has managed to set up by January 20. The best we can hope for from Obama is a reduction in the number of forces in Iraq. He will continue the imperial project until and unless forced to abandon it by the Iraqi and the American people.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Gorilla's Guides said...

Belatedly getting back to you about the report here about al-Hakim's refusal to join in a list with Dawa. Instead of an email reply from my colleague I had a stroke of luck and managed to him in an online chat session. He made a few points.

1) Dawa is, he says, far more narrowly based and that appeal is (his expression) far more elitist than SIIC is and always has been.

2) He also says that while SIIC's record on delivering the reconstruction goods is quite as bad as Dawa's that Dawa are seen as being particularly ineffective and moreover out of touch and sympathy with the problems or ordinary Irakis. Moreover they don't have as many clerics preaching pro-Dawa sermons either and they don't any sort of effective paramilitary presence. That their militia was as he put it, "nothing more than a bodyguard service."

He went on to say that SIIC's record of distributing aid, while nowhere up to the level of the Sadrists in terms of scope and reach it's way more effective than Dawa's efforts in that regard. And that under al-Hakim junior :-) that the charitable foundations controlled by the al-Hakims have been expanding their operations very agressively.

3) He said that Dawa are facing losses and that he thinks they'll suffer massive losses "even in Nassiriyah" because of all that.

He didn't seem to think that Jaafari's split was a primary cause of the decline at all. He said it would probably magnify the effect but that Dawa's record as administrators and bestowers of bounty was what was most against them.

He kept coming back to Nassiriyah - he said that if they did badly there they'd do disastrously everywhere else.

About Maliki himself he said that Maliki's standing had risen but that this was his personal standing and wouldn't translate across in local terms. He also said that Maliki was seen as being far more of a hostage to the Americans and the Kurds than any other national politician.

He also reminded me that the current crop of major politicians both in Dawa and SIIC are all returned exiles and that while they might be very good at surviving in exile and engaging in conspiratorial politics that none of them had delivered much in the way of goods and services.

Hope all that is of some use to you.

Kind regards,


11:07 AM  
Blogger badger said...

thank you Erdla, and thanks to your colleague! This kind of thing is hard to come by, and we need all the help we can get.

1:41 PM  

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