Amid calls by Iraq’s opposition MPs to present the draft agreement with the United States as it presently stands to parliament, a leaked version of the Status of Forces Agreement has appeared. From last month, this version appears to set no deadline for the withdrawal of “noncombat” troops from Iraq, and would grant blanket immunity to US military personnel throughout Iraq.
Perhaps most stunningly, however, is that it reportedly states “This agreement goes into effect on the day that diplomatic memos confirming all constitutional procedures have been met in both countries are exchanged”. Though the move might not be without political consequences, it would seem to allow Prime Minister Maliki to bypass Parliament entirely simply by claiming, as the Bush Administration has, that the deal is a simple bilateral executive agreement and not subject to parliamentary oversight.
But even if Prime Minister Maliki has found a way to avoid subjecting the agreement to a likely hostile reception from Iraq’s Parliament, recent reports suggest that negotiations on a finalized version of the agreement are faltering. As American officials express concerns about Maliki asserting an increasing level of independence, the revelation that the United States has been spying heavily on Maliki and other members of his government seems destined to complicate matters even further. Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi is quoted as saying his government “doesn’t need the agreement” and would insist on several conditions, including a guarantee of sovereignty. He also said that discussions on the agreement have “been stopped” for some time, citing “disputes” over critical issues.