Monday, November 17, 2008

Observations on the security agreement

Monday Nov 17

A day after the Sunday Nov 16 announcement of approval by the Maliki cabinet of a version of the bilateral security agreement, the only published version* I've seen of the text is, oddly enough, by the Iranian Fars News Agency (h/t to RoadstoIraq); and Fars leads its story this way:
The latest "revised" text of the security agreement which America wants to have signed, and which the Iraqi government affirmed today after broad American pressure and threats, confirms American admission that Iraq has the sovereign right to demand the withdrawal of the American forces from that country at any time.
This refers to Article 24 section 4:
The United States acknowledges the sovereign right of the government of Iraq to demand the withdrawal of the forces of the Unites States from Iraq at any time, and the government of Iraq acknowledges the sovereign right of the United States to withdraw its forces from Iraq at any time.
Simple as that.

So on the face of it, this seems to moot the whole issue of fixed-date withdrawal-schedule versus conditions-based withdrawal-schedule, because it ackowledges that withdrawal happens whenever either government demands it--"at any time".

That's on the legal side of things, and it could well explain why Hakim, currently in Tehran, sent a message to his Supreme Council people to support the agreement (according to Azzaman this morning). (And why Fars leads its story in the way it does, as in effect a capitulation by the Bush administration).

Likewise, on the political side, there is somewhat striking language in the text that also supports this idea. Here's Article 4 section 1:
The government of Iraq calls on the forces of the United States for temporary assistance in its efforts to preserve security and stability in Iraq, including cooperation in undertaking operations against AlQaeda and the other terrorist groups, [against] outlaw groups, and against the remnants of the previous regime.
There is no reference to the rule of law here, only these labels, reflecting in effect an amalgamation of the Bush-era rhetorical GWOT approach, with the Supreme Council Saddamist-under-every-bed fixation.

Something similar happens when the text deals with the turnover of prisoners from the Americans to the Iraqi government. Article 22 section 4 says the Americans undertake to provide all the information they have on prisoners they hold, and to turn over to the Iraqi authorities those against who there are proper arrest orders issued "in the usual way", and to release the others in an organized and secure fashion--"unless the Iraqi government requests otherwise pursuant to Article 4 of this agreement". Article 4, as noted above, is what you could call the GWOT/Saddamist-under-every-bed declaration of joint venture.

* Lazy me! The text is right there on the front page of the GreenZone paper AlSabaah this morning, and it seems to be identical to the Fars Agency text.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Ken Hoop said...

any reaction to Gareth Porter's reading of SOFA as published in
Asia Times today?

11:42 AM  
Blogger Eric Martin said...

So on the face of it, this seems to moot the whole issue of fixed-date withdrawal-schedule versus conditions-based withdrawal-schedule, because it ackowledges that withdrawal happens whenever either government demands it--"at any time".

Just to clarify, there is also a fixed date of withdrawal that would apply absent an earlier call for withdrawal (which I believe still has a one year notice period). At least as written.

There are also provisions whereby the term can be extended by the mutual agreement of the US and Iraq - but that sort of goes without saying as two nations can always establish such arrangements on mutual consent.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Bob Gaines said...

Is there still a "Strategic Framework Agreement" in the offing?

4:07 PM  
Blogger Shirin said...

"There are also provisions whereby the term can be extended by the mutual agreement of the US and Iraq - but that sort of goes without saying as two nations can always establish such arrangements on mutual consent."

You make it sound as if this so-called SOFA were based on some kind of normal relationship between two equal, sovereign, independent states when nothing could be farther from reality.

And the United States has always tried to use the fiction that it is present in Iraq only by the agreement of the "government" which it put into place (do not forget, please, how Maliki ended up as PM) and keeps in place, and the even bigger fiction that it would leave if ever the "government" asked it to.

12:04 AM  

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