Highlights

 
Quotable
After every ''victory'' you have more enemies.
Jeanette Winterson
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
May 27, 2008

Iraq Deals Overshadowed by Rising Concerns


by Jim Lobe

Iraqi parliamentarians are increasingly concerned that they are being left out of talks between Iraqi and U.S. officials over a strategic deal to determine the future relationship between the two countries, at a time when the U.S. Congress failed to include a provision in a bill to fund the Iraq and Afghan wars last week to restrict President George W. Bush's authority to sign such deals.

"We have not been informed about the content of the talks in detail so far," Abdulkhaliq Zangana, from the Kurdistan Alliance bloc in Iraq's Council of Representatives, which holds 53 of 275 parliamentary seats, told IPS in a telephone interview from Baghdad. "There is absolutely no way that the Iraqi government can make any such agreements without the consent of Iraqi parliament."

He said, however, that there is a general consensus among Iraqi parliamentary blocs for such an agreement to regulate "the future relations between the two countries" but in a way that is "in the interests of both sides."

The Iraqi and U.S. governments have been negotiating for months the formulation of two agreements, as the UN mandate under which U.S. troops currently operate in Iraq will terminate in December.

One is known as a Status of Forces Agreement, which sets up the legal basis for the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. The other one is called a Strategic Framework Agreement, and would devise a blueprint for the wider bilateral relationship between the two countries in political, economic, and cultural areas.

As a first step, President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed an agreement known as the Declaration of Principles last November. The agreement commits the United States to defend Iraq in the event of any "foreign aggression" and "external and internal threats."

"Of course, there are a lot of fears inside and outside parliament regarding the content of such agreements since they deal with strategic, critical, and long-term issues for Iraq," added Zangana, who demanded a vital role for the parliament in the negotiating process.

The concerns by Iraqi lawmakers come as their counterparts in Washington are pressing the administration hard not to sign any deals with the Iraqi government on defense and security matters without congressional approval.

Despite that, the U.S. Senate failed last Wednesday to include a provision in a bill to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that would constrain Bush's power to unilaterally sign any security agreements with Iraq.

The explicitly aggressive tone of the Bush-Maliki agreement on protecting Iraq against foreign intervention has set off alarms in Washington that the administration may seek to use it as a cover to attack Iran, which has been repeatedly accused by U.S. civilian and military officials of destabilizing Iraq.

In an unexpected move that could further increase tensions, the U.S. military has established a station near the Iranian border without the consent of Iraqi authorities, and which sparked Iranian protests, Iran's English-language Press TV reported in late April.

With a July deadline for the agreements approaching fast, Iraq's clerical class has become more vocal against the possible deals as well. Iraq's most powerful religious figure, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, joined other dissenting voices when he recently said he would not allow Iraq to sign such a deal with "the U.S. occupiers" as long as he was alive, Press TV reported last Saturday.

Another senior Iraqi cleric, Sayyed Kazem Haeri, had earlier ruled against the agreements and had said that those agreements would "legitimize" the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Iraq's ambassador to Washington, Samir al-Sumaidaie, complained, during a media roundtable at the Iraqi embassy last February, that the controversial agreements would turn Iraq "into a virtual colony of the United States," or present a "formula for stationing permanent American bases" in the war-torn nation.

While many lawmakers consider the deals to be treaties – which under the U.S. Constitution would require Senate approval – the administration rejects that argument and says they are executive agreements that lie within the president's powers.

The movement against the deals in Congress has been mainly led by Democrats who fear Bush's attempts to set the future Iraq policy framework would tie the hands of the next president – who Democrats strongly hope will come from their ranks.

Describing the move by Democrats as "a continuation of the power game struggle" between the Republican-held White House and Democratic-dominated Congress, Kate Gould from the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby group, said, "Congress would definitely not approve an agreement with such a broad-scale military commitment from the U.S. as outlined in the Declaration of Principles."

"Bush is exceptionally determined to not consult with Congress in matters where their input has historically been sought," said Gould.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • US Jews Open to Palestinian Unity Govt
    3/26/2009

  • Bipartisan Experts Urge 'Partnership' With Russia
    3/17/2009

  • Obama Administration Insists It's Neutral in Salvador Poll
    3/14/2009

  • NGOs Hail Congressional Moves to Ease Embargo
    3/12/2009

  • Call to 'Resist and Deter' Nuclear Iran Gains Key Support
    3/7/2009

  • Washington Ends Diplomatic Embargo of Syria
    3/4/2009

  • Diplomatic, Aid Spending Set to Rise Under Obama Budget
    2/28/2009

  • Many Muslims Reject Terror Tactics, Back Some Goals
    2/26/2009

  • Lugar Report Calls for New Cuba Policy
    2/24/2009

  • U.S.-Israel Storm Clouds Ahead?
    2/20/2009

  • Calls Mount for Obama to Appoint 'Truth Commission'
    2/20/2009

  • Washington's Praise of Venezuelan Vote Suggests D├ętente
    2/19/2009

  • Rightward Shift in Israeli Polls Creates New Headaches
    2/13/2009

  • US Advised to Back Somalia Reconciliation Efforts
    2/12/2009

  • Hawks Urge Boosting Military Spending
    2/5/2009

  • More Troops, More Worries,
    Less Consensus on Afghanistan
    2/4/2009

  • Report: Most Citizens Kept in Dark on Govt Spending
    2/2/2009

  • Obama Raises Hopes of
    Mideast Experts
    1/28/2009

  • Obama Picks Israel-Arab, Afghanistan-Pakistan Negotiators
    1/23/2009

  • Rights Groups Applaud Move to Halt Gitmo Trials
    1/22/2009

  • Obama Offers Internationalist Vision
    1/21/2009

  • Around the World, High Hopes for Obama
    1/20/2009

  • Liberals, Realists Set to Clash in Obama Administration
    1/19/2009

  • Obama Urged to Take Bold Steps Toward Cuba Normalization
    1/15/2009

  • Clinton Stresses 'Cooperative Engagement,' 'Smart Power'
    1/14/2009

  • Bush Foreign Policy Legacy Widely Seen as Disastrous
    1/14/2009

  • Networks' Int'l News Coverage at Record Low in 2008
    1/6/2009

  • Amnesty Calls on Rice to Drop 'Lopsided' Gaza Stance
    1/3/2009

  • Israeli Attack May Complicate Obama's Plans
    12/30/2008

  • Report: Recognizing Hamas Could Help Peace
    12/19/2008

  • Business Groups Support Dismantling Cuba Embargo
    12/8/2008

  • Mumbai Massacre Seen as Major Blow to Regional Strategy
    12/5/2008

  • Obama Urged to Quickly Engage Iran, Syria
    12/3/2008

  • Diplomacy, Multilateralism Stressed by Obama Team
    12/2/2008

  • Obama Foreign Policy: Realists to Reign?
    11/28/2008

  • Hemispheric Group Calls for Major Changes in Americas Policy
    11/25/2008

  • Greybeards Urge Overhaul of Global Governance
    11/21/2008

  • Intelligence Analysts See Multi-Polar, Risky World By 2025
    11/21/2008

  • Obama Urged to Strengthen Ties with UN
    11/20/2008

  • Obama-Tied Think-Tank Calls for Pakistan Shift
    11/18/2008

  • Obama Advised to Forgo More Threats to Iran
    11/17/2008

  • First, Close Gitmo,
    Say Rights Groups
    11/11/2008

  • Obama's Foreign Policy:
    No Sharp Break From Bush
    11/11/2008

  • Coca Cultivation Up Despite Six Years of Plan Colombia
    11/7/2008

  • Obama to Seek Global Re-engagement, But How Much?
    11/6/2008

  • Two, Three, Many Grand Bargains?
    11/3/2008

  • Moving Towards a 'Grand Bargain' in Afghanistan
    10/19/2008

  • Top Ex-Diplomats Slam 'Militarization' of Foreign Policy
    10/16/2008

  • Bush Set to Go With a Whimper, Not a Bang
    10/15/2008

  • Pakistan 'Greatest Single Challenge' to Next President
    10/8/2008

  • Senate Passes Nuke Deal Over Escalation Fears
    10/3/2008

  • Brief Talks With Syria Spur Speculation
    10/1/2008

  • Iran Resolution Shelved in Rare Defeat for AIPAC
    9/27/2008

  • Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World
    9/25/2008

  • White House Still Cautious on Georgia
    9/6/2008

  • US' Somalia Policy Likely to Bring Blowback
    9/4/2008

  • Iran Could Reap Benefits of U.S.-Russian Tensions
    8/28/2008

  • A Really Bad Couple of Weeks for Pax Americana
    8/24/2008

  • Success of Attack on Iran's Nuclear Program Doubtful
    8/9/2008

  • US Gets No Traction in the Middle East
    8/5/2008

  • Gates Strategy Stresses Unconventional Warfare
    8/1/2008

  • Air Force Think Tank Advises Against Iran Attack
    7/31/2008

  • Pakistani PM May Be Pincushion for U.S. Frustration
    7/26/2008

  • Realists Urge Bush to Drop Iran Precondition
    7/23/2008

  • McCain Knee-Capped by Maliki
    7/22/2008

  • Jim Lobe, works as Inter Press Service's correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has followed the ups and downs of neo-conservatives since well before their rise in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com