Despite Reports, Iraq Pullout Far From a Done Deal

The international press is atwitter with talk of the now nearly-finalized Iraq-US draft agreement. While it appears unlikely that the United States Senate will have any say in the deal once finalized, it would be hasty to declare such a deal inevitable.

As recently as yesterday Iraqi negotiators were demanding the right to try US troops, though at present that appears not to be part of the agreement. Private contractors on the other hand, long a contentious issue with the Iraqi Defense Ministry, reportedly would be subject to Iraqi law as the deal presently stands. There’s even a pullout date, of sorts. Under the “aspirational time horizon” of late 2011, US troops would be out of Iraq. This timeline, US officials are quick to point out, is a target rather than a hard date and subject to the achievement of certain as-yet-undefined measures of sustained progress in Iraq’s political, economic, and security situations. The Iraqi government, on the other hand, want any such deal to expire in three years, making the target date more or less firm without an additional agreement.

Even then, the deal faces an uphill battle within Iraq, with thousands of followers of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr taking to the streets to denounce the agreement, which they described as “a permanent colonization of Iraq”, and even the normally quiet Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warning parliament to consider the long-term implications of any agreement. In addition, former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari co-issued a statement with several other Members of Parliament condemning the agreement as “humiliating”.

With such a large array of opponents and skeptics, and without the option of declaring such an important deal an “executive agreement” to bypass Iraqi Parliamentary objections, the future of the security deal seems anything but assured.

compiled by Jason Ditz

Author: Eric Garris

Eric Garris is webmaster and managing editor of