Thursday, May 29, 2008

Basra paper: Secrecy about the contents of the treaty reminds us of 1948

The Basra newspaper AlMannara, reporting on news earlier this week that said the government intends to continue these negotiations, had this to say:
It is worth mentioning that the Iraqi people, up to now, know nothing about the course of these negotiations on an important agreement that could bind Iraq forever, because Iraqi politicians don't think it necessary to inform people about the details of these negotiations, in spite of the fact that this agreement relates exclusively to the land of Iraq, and to the future of the people of Iraq, and not to the future of the political parties and blocs, or to the personalities, that are currently in charge of this matter. Those that are negotiating with the United States are obliged, legally and also morally, to give people the details of what they are doing behind the scenes, so that there isn't a repeat of the famous story of Portsmouth, which was one of the causes of the aggravation of popular resentment against the regime of the monarchy.
The Portsmouth Agreement of 1948 was basically an extension of the treaty of 1930 that had made Iraq a de facto appendage of the British Empire "under the guise of revising it" (says Hanna Batatu in "The old Social Classes...", his big book on Iraqi history), and he adds that the rulers at the time "could and did foresee trouble, even though the scale and intensity, when it came, took them completely by surprise". One of the measures they took was to install a Shiite as Prime Minister, for the first time since the start of the monarchy, on the idea that having a member of the majority sect in that position would "blunt the edge" of the expected popular opposition, but it didn't help. The uprising triggered by the Portsmouth Agreement, led by the Communist Party, was ultimately put down, but it remains a symbol of popular opposition to just this kind of back-room "negotiations" between a foreign power and its local puppets.

It should be noted that one of the clauses in Moqtada's call for a campaign against this is described in his first point: "Inform the people about each clause of the agreement, and the extent of the damage that it will cause." The fact this list leads off with this simple demand for information hasn't been reported at all by the English-language media or the big pundits. Which is significant because it isn't only the Iraqi people, but also the American people, who haven't been told anything specific about what is in this proposed agreement, and what exactly is being negotiated.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only place I could find anything but vague platitudes on the actual content of the proposed SOFA+ thingy was on Iran's Press TV - a couple of weeks ago they carried what looks like a "leaked" resumé of the content of the proposed agreement:

"(...)One look at Article 10 of the treaty makes it apparent that the US administration hopes to quietly impose the binding contract and legitimize its indefinite military presence in the country.

"As long as Iraqi security/military forces are not well-trained, security hasn't been ensured, the neighboring states pose a threat, and terrorist attacks continue, the treaty will be officially binding and both parties are obliged to implement it."

The first article of the treaty allows the US Army to carry out military operations in Iraq at any time and any place.

Under Article 2, American and British troops can arrest suspects at any time without the consent of the Iraqi government.

Article 3 reinforces Article 10 by asserting that there are no time limits for the presence of American forces, thus annulling the 1790 UN Security Council anti-occupation Resolution.

The contents of the treaty will dissipate all hopes of a sovereign Iraq, turning the country into a US colony.

According to Article 4, American servicemen and non-servicemen are not obliged to attend any court hearings in Iraq, literally granting them capitulation privileges.

Article 7 puts the Iraqi ministries of defense, interior and intelligence under the direct supervision of US officials, ensuring Iraq will be officially governed by the United States.

Article 6 allows the US to set up 14 military bases in Iraq; Article 8 provides American forces with the authority to supervise arms sales as well as train Iraqi military and law enforcement personnel.

Article 9 argues that as a member of the international community Iraq must recognize Israel and unconditionally support Washington's Middle East policies.

4:32 PM  

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