With boisterous debate and a looming vote in Iraq’s parliament over the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States, few things could have made the situation any more tense. The United States has issued repeated threats of extreme consequences if the Iraqi government fails to approve the current, and apparently final, draft. Perhaps not wanting to feel left out, Iraq’s own government has joined in.
Defense Minister Abdul Qadir Muhammed Jassim, a long-time supporter of the SOFA, has warned that the government will declare a “state of emergency” if parliament declines to approve the pact. He also cautioned about political parties that maintain their own armed militias, not mentioning any names but likely not intending to refer to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s own controversial Support Councils.
Iraq has imposed states of emergency on multiple occasions since the US invasion. Under the National Safety Law, the Prime Minister is empowered to impose curfews, restrict freedom of movement and assembly, and cordon off areas he deems “suspect.”