The Bush Administration has received and is reviewing the latest proposed amendments to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) for Iraq. Though the exact terms of the amendments have no yet been released, one of the revisions is an explicit ban on US forces using Iraqi territory to strike neighboring countries. Another is that the Iraqi government would have the right to inspect American arms shipments. The rest of the changes have been reported as clarifications to vague wordings rather than material changes.
President Bush says he will consider the amendments, in the spirit of being helpful, but warned that they won’t be allowed to undermine “basic principles.” Still, he says he remains “confident” that the SOFA agreement will ultimately be passed.
The present draft of the SOFA deal was initial reported to be the final one, but growing opposition to the draft led to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ultimately deciding not to submit the agreement to parliament. The US has been resistant to changes with the deal needing to be finalized by the end of the year.
US military spokesman Brigadier General David Perkins warned today that Iraqi refusal to agree to the agreement by year’s end could derail the “gains” made in Iraq over the past two years. The warning comes just days after General Ray Odierno issued a three-page letter warning that the US would halt all civilian aid in addition to military operations if the Iraqis didn’t approve the SOFA, though the threat is seen as unlikely to save the faltering pact.