The United States’ early proposal would have kept troops within Iraq to 2015, says Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, while the Iraqi government had originally sought a date of 2010. The date is reportedly fixed at 2011, though President Talabani says that the Iraqi government would retain to option to extend the presence of the troops beyond this date.
The Bush Administration has been quick to note that the deal is still not finalized, and while the Iraqi government has insisted that the 2011 date is a firm one, US spokesman have continued to describe the date as an “aspirational time horizon”. This has been a contentious point for the Pentagon, who have continued to insist that any deal on a troop withdrawal be conditioned upon unspecified future progress by the Iraqi government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has demanded that any agreement include an “unconditional timetable” for US withdrawal.
Terms of the draft agreement still have not been released to the public, though Iraqi government spokesman Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh told Voices of Iraq that the agreement did not preclude security agreements with any other nation, and that foreign troops would not be allowed to conduct military operations within the country without prior clearance from the Iraqi government. He also denied a rumor that there were to be any secret portions of the agreement.
One contentious issue still to be hammered out is the question of immunity. Dr. al-Dabbagh said “open immunities cannot be given to any person, whether he is Iraqi or a foreigner,” though earlier reports claimed that only US contractors would be subject to Iraqi law, while military personnel would remain under American jurisdiction. This has been a sore spot for many Iraqis, as US soldiers have killed thousands of Iraqi civilians and trials, when they happen at all, are often dismissed, or lead to convictions for relatively minor charges.
Even once the terms of the agreement are finalized, its approval is far from assured. While the Bush Administration maintains that the deal would be an “executive agreement” as opposed to a formal treaty, and therefore wouldn’t require Senate approval, the Iraqi government has no such luxury, and would have to put the pact to an undoubtedly difficult vote in the Iraqi parliament.
compiled by Jason Ditz
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