Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 31, 2008

Amb. Crocoker Lies on Chapter 7 and Iraq

Badger helps us to understand the complicate maneuverings in Iraq around the U.S.-Iraq Status of Force (SOFA) and Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA).

There is opposition to both of these to different degrees within the government fractions and within the opposition  groups. This has nothing to do with sectarianism but sets up the government side, which would not survive in its position without the U.S. forces, against the nationalist Shia and Sunni opposition.

As Badger translates from Al Hayat:

[O]bservers stressed that the latest version includes text relating to the establishment of 400 locations and bases [for the American forces], exemption [from Iraqi legal process] for American soldiers and citizens, and elimination of any responsibility [on the American side] for participation in the rebuilding of Iraq.

400 bases, of course not 'permanent' ones but only for a 100 years, must be about the number the U.S. currently has in Iraq. So effectively nothing would change.

Maliki may sign up such agreements when Crocker puts a gun to his head but I doubt that the Iraqi people will swallow that frog even under gunpoint, which of course they currently are anyway.

There is a nice line of disinformation coming from Ambassador Crocoker on this. Al Hayat via Badger:

"These protests [by Hakim and Hashemi respectively] have not stopped the Iraqi Foreign Ministry from announcing that the negotiations will be continued; and informed sources said Crocker has informed the Iraqi politicians that the US rejects holding a general referendum on the clauses of the agreement adding that it would be bad if Iraq were unable to exit from Clause 7" (of the UN charter, which governs the current status of US forces in the country).

"it would be bad if Iraq were unable to exit from Clause 7" - horseshit!!!

The current dubious legality of the U.S. in Iraq derives from the 2004 UN resolution 1546 (pdf). As CNN reported when that  resolution was approved:

[The resolution] also says the [Multinational] force will be able to take "all necessary measures to contribute to maintenance of security and stability" in Iraq and gives a 12-month deadline for the force to be reviewed.

Since then 1546 has been renewed, but the authority of the occupation troops WILL RUN OUT at the end of 2008. Global Policy Forum explains the resolution history:

[U]nder US/UK pressure, the Council has repeatedly renewed the mandate, in resolutions 1546, 1637 and 1723.
In late 2007, Washington and London again asked the Security Council to renew the MNF mandate, for an extension of another year. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wrote to the Council to request a mandate renewal without referring the matter to parliament for ratification, as required by the Iraqi constitution. A majority of parliamentarians also had written a letter in April to Security Council members calling for a timetable for MNF withdrawal. The cabinet's actions were unilateral, unconstitutional and illegal.

Iraqi parliamentarians wrote another letter to Security Council members immediately before Council action. Further, the US House of Representatives scheduled a hearing on the matter asking "Is the Iraqi Parliament Being Ignored?" But on December 18, under heavy pressure from Washington, the Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate for a further year.

There is no chance to do this stunt again if the situation in Iraq stays relatively quiet.

The December 2007 resolution is 1790 which prolonged the occupation to the end of 2008. Here is how the Security Council's press office announced it:

Recognizing the request from Iraq, the Security Council today decided to extend the mandate of the multinational force in that country -- “for the last time”, according to its Permanent Representative -- until 31 December 2008.

Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1790 (2007), deciding further that the mandate would be reviewed at the request of the Government of Iraq or no later than 15 June 2008.

The U.S. could probably get another year, 'at the request of the Government of Iraq', if it would instigate another civil war in Iraq in the second half of 2008 and if the Iraqi security forces would not be able to handle such. Even then I doubt that China or Russia would do a lame-duck Bush such a favor.

There is a real bind here. Bush/McCain need to point to a peaceful Iraq where the Iraqi forces have everything under control to have a chance to get another republican presidency. But the same picture makes a prolongation of the UN sanctioned current status of forces impossible.

Without a UN mandate and without a SOFA agreement U.S. forces in Iraq are illegal.

So unlike what Crooker tries to imply, that "Iraq were unable to exit from Clause 7", is not the problem - at least not for Iraqis. The problem is that any UN legal authority for U.S. forces in Iraq would run out and that on January 1 2009 the U.S. forces in Iraq would be just another rogue militia.

You say such legality does not matter? Then please explain why the U.S. administration is sweating over this at all.

Posted by b on May 31, 2008 at 18:38 UTC | Permalink


war crimes?

Posted by: annie | May 31 2008 19:50 utc | 1

Fascinating, to see Hakim's name on the naysayers list. Either he see the odds of the agreement(s) as truly hopeless to pass and can't have his name on it, or he just bought a mighty fine and nice straw suit. Whereby he makes a few minor adjustments, then proclaims the agreements to be just. Must be pretty hard, working for both sides.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 1 2008 3:21 utc | 2>America’s Dangerous Blind Spot in the Middle East
Iraq’s evolving relationship with Iran reshapes the regional landscape in the Middle East, threatening U.S. interests in the region.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 1 2008 7:24 utc | 3>Roads To Iraq is also a little confused by al-Hakims opposition to the above agreements:

What happened that Al Hakim changed his position from pushing for a security agreement treaty with the Americans back in ‘04:

[Al Hakim] pointed out about the continuing efforts to sign a security agreement between Iraq and the United States.

To, suddenly opposes the treaty and few points in the treaty, and why this “Iraq sovereignty” was not a big issue back then?

Few months ago Anajaf News reported the following:

At the meeting with United Iraq Alliance to discus the security agreement, Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim suggested to limit the U.S. forces operations and the places they enter to, Al-Hakim put this proposal after the arrest of Amar Al-Hakim [his son] by the [occupation] forces.

Al Hakim, Maliki [and the rest of the gang] can’t have it both ways, they want to limit the American forces movements and they want the Americans to protect them as explained on this article on Al Akhbar.

Rejecting the security agreement is part of the provincial election campaign to gain more votes, the Iraqi forces and the American forces are incapable to face the Iraqi resistance only by political maneuvers in the terms of freeze and truce only, any American forces withdrawal means Iraqi government exit also.

So apparently the Maliki/Badr government and the U.S. are caught in a bind. 1) they cannot rule the country without U.S. muscle, 2) the U.S. needs elections in the fall to (re)empower the Sunnis they have co-opted, 3) but elections will also empower the Sadrists 4) and collapse the Maliki/Badr government, 5) so in order to maintain legitimacy they have to at least appear against the SOFA agreements, 6) that their U.S. muscle must have in order to maintain the occupation.

Should be an interesting summer/fall.

Prediction: The next big reason to be floated for the U.S. failure in Iraq will be the failure, going back to our eternal fountain of mistakes, one L Paul Bremmer, in misunderestimating, trivializing, and taking armed action against Muqtata al-Sadr, and the entire Sadrist Trend and all its various factions and parties. Because as a result they have squandered the only serious nationalist/political orientation that has an open door to reconciliation with its spiritual center in Najaf (as opposed to Qom) and is a natural (if not militant) buffer to Iranian influence. Wasn't it the Sadrist Virtue party that burned the Iranian consulate in Basra?

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 1 2008 8:43 utc | 4

Also, I read a comment (somewhere?) that proposed that instead of the Sadr Trend being the most Hezbollah like entity in Iraq, its actually the Hakim/Badr Organization that fits the analogy better. With Maliki filling the role of a weak central figurehead government and Hakim/Badr being the proxy state within a state wielding the real military power. Not to mention that its also the Hakim/Badr faction that has the most intimate relations with Iran.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 1 2008 9:04 utc | 5

anna missed, add Jaafari to the list of those opposed:

Former PM says formed new "anti-sectarianism" party

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Saturday that he would form a new party under his leadership to "renounce the sectarian quota system and fight the militias," terming as "humiliating" the long-term Iraq-U.S. agreement.

"An Islah (Reform) Party under my leadership was announced today. The new party will see the participation of a number of figures from all blocs and political parties with the aim of renouncing sectarianism and fighting the militias," Jaafari said on Saturday in a press conference attended by Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).

Jaafari criticized the long-term Iraq-U.S. agreement, noting "I renounce the humiliating agreement between Iraq and the United States."

Less surprising than Hakim's stance, and more likely to be an objection in toto rather than to specific clauses as analysed by Badger. "I renounce" is a long way from "I will fight", of course... But the bandwagon is getting mighty crowded.

Posted by: Alamet | Jun 1 2008 16:47 utc | 6

From>Roads to Iraq:

Saudi Arabia criticizes U.S. – Iraq security agreement

If the Iranian media and the Iranian news agencies report this “US bribing Iraqi MPs to sign deal“, it will not surprise me, and if the Americans really tried to bribe Iraqi MP’s, that is also understandable; America is “bribe culture”. But if this is reported on the Saudi media then it is something else, shows how bad the U.S. - Saudi relations, and how disappointed the Saudi.

The funny thing about it is that Saudi newspaper Okaz published the same report but the newspaper said that it’s source is Foxnews.

Also, this is the first time I see news about Iraqi resistance on the same newspaper, quoting the spokesman of the “Iraqi Resistance Islamic Front”.

Worst, the editorial criticizing the U.S. - Iraq agreement says: “Washington .. Hides it’s head in the Sand“.

Iraq will never be Japan, Germany or South Korea, Iraq and the whole region are something else, this is the fact, Washington keeps ignore.

I think the bribe ante just went up a few million. With maybe a penthouse in Dubai.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 2 2008 7:23 utc | 7

Nice trick:

Coming in July: Bush and Maliki's Tag-Team Swindle

Those two documents are called "The Status of Forces Agreement" and "The Strategic Framework Agreement." Maliki is asking the Iraqi parliament to ratify the first. The White House has indicated it will ask the U.S. Congress to ratify the second. In each case, the legislative body in question has reasons to do so. But neither would agree to the other if given the chance. We can diagram the clever trick like this: ...

Posted by: b | Jun 2 2008 10:06 utc | 8

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