Negotiating a new Iraq security agreement

The World

Thousands of demonstrators answered a call by the Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr and took to the streets of Baghdad today. they were protesting against a security agreement with the US. but members of Iraq’s Parliament are worried about the so-called Status of Forces Agreement would infringe on Iraqi sovereignty. The sticking points according to this journalist are: that this sets up an independent Iraqi government but it puts the US in such a powerful position that Iraqi independence will be limited. He says US negotiators are trying to secure long term rights for more than 50 military bases, immunity from Iraqi law for American troops and contractors, room for airspace, and they want to be able to carry out arrests and military operations without consulting Iraqi officials. Many fear terms like these would create terms for a permanent US occupation. Most are worried also how this will divide Iraqis, from those who support and oppose it. Opposition in the US comes from Democrats, who feel they’ve been shut out from the negotiating process and such a wide ranging agreement amounts to a treaty, which means Congress gets to advise and consent. This analyst says the Bush administration has been very secretive about the negotiations. Iraq’s political establishment is in a catch-22 because they need US military support to stay in power and failing to sign an agreement by the end of the year would create a power vacuum. But the catch is that if the government hands over too much authority, they’ll be seen as American lackeys.

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