Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bush's long-term Iraq treaty hits choppy waters

(1) Sistani reportedly already on board with the referendum idea

AlHayat this morning (Thursday May 29) says one element of Sadr's call for a campaign against the proposed long-term US-Iraq agreement is in conformity with a measure the Najaf marja'iyya is said to be already in favor of:
Sadr insisted on the need for holding a general referendum before approving this treaty, and that is something that is in step with the Najaf marja'iyya, which supports the idea of a referendum, according to leaks from people close to it. Sadr had said in his statement, "How pleased and glad I am by the issue of fatwas, one written and another oral, barring the treaty..." He was likely referring to a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri in Qom. And sources close to the Shiite authority Ali al-Sistani told AlHayat that Sistani had urged Prime Minister al-Maliki during his recent visit to Najaf to be circumspect in his dealings with the treaty, and he urged him to organize a referendum with respect to it.

(2) Government people saying the July deadline won't be met, citing "unfavorable circumstances"

Moreover, AlHayat also says that Sadr's call for a campaign against the treaty is already causing backtracking and new expressions of caution by government spokespeople, who are now saying the negotiations will take longer than the earlier-indicated end-July deadline. The journalist writes:
Apprehension about American pressure on Iraqis to accelerate negotiations ahead of the aforementioned deadline [end of July] became apparent, and it extended to government circles, where Ali al-Adeeb, a leader of the Dawa Party said: "All of the Iraqi political blocs have reservations about the treaty, just as all Iraqi citizens are against the idea of passing such a treaty without exposing it to the people via their representatives in Parliament". He stressed the need to study the treaty and discuss the clauses, and if there is benefit in it for Iraqis, then it can be signed.

Al-Adeeb's explanations were in response to the call by Moqtada al-Sadr for organization of "popular and parliamentary and Hausa-based" activities against the treaty...
and the journalist outlines some of the points, including demonstrations, organization of delegations to other countries for international solidarity against the treaty, and so on.

Specifically on the point about extending the talks past the end of July, the reporter says this:
Sources said Iraq has informed the American delegation of its intention to extend the talks to the end of the year, on account of unfavorable domestic conditions, and [they informed the Americans also of the need for] deep study of the form of the American military presence in Iraq, and of the proposals for ending [that presence] in case it is no longer necessary.

(3) The meaning of the July deadline

And the journalist explains:
The earlier-defined deadline of announcing the treaty before the end of July was connected with the approaching end of the era of president Bush, and the advent of a new administration which might change the direction of the negotiations and more generally the attitude to the war in Iraq.


Blogger Bruno said...

This is very good news indeed. If the expulsion of the invader can be achieved politically instead of violently, then so much the better.

What are the Sunni Iraqis saying about this agreement? Are they also in opposition? One would guess so.

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect that the end of July deadline has more to do with the withdrawal of the surge combat brigades, all 5 of which will have gone home by then, than anything else.

3:29 AM  
Blogger badger said...

A good question, Bruno. We'll see. For now I noted an interesting anti-treaty argument by a Sunni deputy here

6:57 AM  

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