Maliki Struggles to Assure Neighbors on Pact

by Jason Ditz, November 25, 2008

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the United States is scheduled for a vote tomorrow in the Iraqi Parliament, and while Maliki tries to shore up domestic support, he also faces growing concern among Iraq’s neighbors about the prospect that the over 150,000 US troops in Iraq being used to attack neighboring nations.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has sought to reassure his neighbors that the provisions of the SOFA explicitly forbid the US from attacking any of them from Iraqi soil, sending letters to the leaders of all neighboring countries touting this clause of the SOFA.

And though they have gone to great lengths to avoid having to comment publicly on it until after tomorrow’s Iraqi vote, the Bush Administration’s interpretation suggests those fears are in fact well-founded. Citing what one official termed a “loophole” in the deal guaranteeing both nations the right to “self defense” irrespective of the actual terms of the SOFA, the administration apparently feels that it can in fact launch attacks into Iraq’s neighbors in spite of the ban.

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