The United States has officially responded to the Iraqi government’s proposed amendments to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) today. The terms of the response have not yet been made public, but early reports indicate that, as suggested by White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe on Tuesday, the US had accepted some of the amendments and rejected others.
But don’t expect another series of heated negotiations punctuated by the occasional US threat, for while Iraq is looking at the response with an eye toward another series of SOFA (which they’re now calling “the withdrawal agreement” in an attempt to sell the deal to a skeptical Iraqi public) and still pressing for a fixed pullout date, US State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said today that “we believe the process on our side has been concluded, so its now the Iraqis’ turn for them to move the document through their internal political process.”
The amendments were largely clarifications to the vague wording of the previous document, for instance on the question of Iraq’s jurisdiction over US forces. Beyond that though, the Iraqis have sought an explicit ban on US forces using Iraqi territory to attack neighboring countries, the right to inspect American arms shipments, and the elimination of a clause which would allow troops to stay past the December 31, 2011 deadline.
The most contentious amendment to the US is reported to have been a clarification of the immunity for US troops: the latest draft reportedly would have allowed the US to determine when its troops were or were not under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi courts.