US, Iraq Redefine Cities to Defy Deadline

US Must Leave Cities By June 30, But Who's to Say What's a City?

With the June 30 deadline for US troops to leave Iraqi cities rapidly approaching, the US desire to stay and the Iraqi government’s desire to look like they’re making the US adhere to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) seem clearly at odds. Yet, it seems, the two sides have found a rather clever loophole. Deciding that neither side really wanted the 3,000 US troops to leave southern Baghdad, the two have decided southern Baghdad really isn’t part of the city of Baghdad, indeed not a city at all, and therefore not subject to the deadline. The SOFA’s enforceability has been a serious question since last month’s Kut raid, in which US troops attacked a house full of Shi’ite civilians, killing two and briefly detaining others. The Iraqi government repeatedly condemned the raid as a violation of the SOFA, and demanded that the US turn over those involved to face trial in Iraqi courts, as per the agreement. Needless to say, the US decided very quickly that wasn’t going to happen, proclaiming the raid lawful and legal even as they were quietly apologizing to the man they wrongfully arrested on terrorism charges. The situation basically ended then and there. If there is no enforceability of the pact when one side feels a violation has occurred, it seems hard to imagine that the June 30 deadline will survive if both sides feel the need to circumvent it.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.