SOFA Approved? Not So Fast
The Iraqi Cabinet today voted to approve the SOFA. This evening, we are very pleased to have Mohammed Ibn Laith, a member of the Sadrist trend, joining us to discuss the latest developments. In earlier comments, he has noted:
I would point out that it must be approved by the green zone parliament and that the Sunni blocs are unlikely to agree. Indeed there are reprorts of them on the radio rushing to denounce it. Also the References (what you would call the Ayatollahs and the Grand Ayatollahs) are by no means clearly in favour and have in the case of the Sayyid Al-Sistani said it must pass by consensus of the community.
I am sure there is a great deal we can learn from his comments and perspective. Meanwhile, here’s a bit more on the latest news for background:
Actually, there were two documents approved. Maliki’s spokesman Ali Dabbagh described them as follows:
“The first Iraqi-U.S. agreement is about U.S. forces’ withdrawal from Iraq, and organizing those forces’ activities during their temporary presence in Iraq,” he added.
“The second agreement frames the principles of cooperation between the two countries in the fields of politics, diplomacy, culture, health, environment, economy, and power, in addition to information and communication technology and implementing law and judiciary,” he explained.
The second governs such areas as oil contracts – and with the actual text of both still unpublished, it’s hard to analyse what is really going on here. It does look like a ploy to add a pretence of “mutual agreement” on control of Iraqi resources separate from ending the actual military occupation.
Reactions in Iraq were immediate:
The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) said on Sunday that the Iraqi government has approved a deal of “submission” to the U.S. administration, terming the agreement as one that would entrench a “despicable occupation."
Lawmaker Maysoon al-Damalojy of the Iraqi list’s secular parliamentary bloc on Sunday said that the Iraqi-U.S. security pact is “incomplete,” because it preserves neither Iraqi funds in foreign banks nor Iraq’s security… The United Nations (UN) currently preserves Iraq’s funds in foreign banks, but this issue is not listed in the pact,” she said…”U.S. commitment in the pact to preserve Iraq’s security and border has been brittle.”
The government’s approval on the security pact between Iraq and the United States is “meaningless”, according to a spokesman for Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc said.
On Friday, Moqtada Al-Sadr
threatened to call his Mahdi Army militia back into action against U.S. forces if the agreement, which would replace a U.N. mandate that expires Dec. 31, took effect. He said American forces should leave and that any agreement permitting them to stay longer infringes on Iraqi sovereignty.
Support for any agreement with the US has further undermined by the renewed bombings of markets and other civilian locations recently. While Gen Odierno threatened Iraqis with worsening violence if the SOFA was not approved, Iraqis have a very diferent interpretation of recent events – a view supported by the recent visit of “Salvador Option” Negroponte to Iraq as reported by Bernard at Moon of Alabama.
Anwar Ali, an Iraqi reporter for the New York Times describes the feeling well:
Some people are saying that the Americans are making the bombings to make Iraqis believe that it is very important for them to stay in Iraq, that they are still needed. The Americans say that when they withdraw from Iraq violence will increase. Is that a threat? You can read it as a threat, or you can read it as an expectation. Some Iraqis take it as a threat.
Some people are asking: “Are the Americans punishing us with bombings because Iraq has refused to sign the SOFA?” [Status of Forces Agreement]
Here that is a reality, people think it. I can see it in people’s eyes when they say it to me. Real belief in what they are saying.
Other people say that all the latest explosions are because of the provincial elections as the different political parties are conflicting with each other to win the elections. One woman, Umm Haider, said: “The victims are always the innocent poor civilians.”
Youtube of a former Marine speaking while watching the anti-SOFA demonstrations in Iraq.