Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabagh issued a statement today harshly criticizing Admiral Michael Mullen‘s recent warnings regarding Iraqi officials’ criticisms of the terms of the latest draft Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Al-Dabagh warned that the statements were “unwelcome” and an “inappropriate way to address Iraqis.”
Yesterday, Admiral Mullen warned that though he understood the benefits of “a healthy debate” he was “increasingly concerned” with public criticisms of the draft by Iraqi officials, and cautioned Iraqis that they were “running out of time” to approve the deal.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also warned Iraq yesterday of “very real” consequences if they declined to approve the present draft. Al-Dabagh has assured that all factions in his government “well understand its overreaching consequences.”
The SOFA was intended to replace the UN mandate covering US forces in Iraq, which expires at the end of the year. It was reported last week that the current draft was the final one, but Iraqi officials have demanded several amendments to the deal before they will sign off on it. Secretary Gates said the US was reluctant to make any further changes, however. Kurdistan Coalition MP Khalid Shawani says he expects the deal to be postponed until at least after next month’s US election.