Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 07, 2008

A Memorandum of Understanding?

Maliki and Bush have a big problem. The Iraqi parliament will obviously not agree to the status of force agreement the U.S. is pressing for. But Maliki now thinks he has found an alternative.

Iraq has proposed a short-term memorandum of understanding with the United States rather than trying to hammer through a formal agreement on the presence of U.S. forces, the country's prime minister said Monday.
Al-Maliki has promised in the past to submit a formal agreement with the U.S. to parliament for approval. But the government indicated Monday it may not do so with the memorandum.

"It is up to the Cabinet whether to approve it or sign on it, without going back to the parliament," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told the AP.
Iraq's al-Maliki wants short-term US agreement

The big issue here is legality. A memorandum of understanding can be a legally binding treaty. But for that they will have to fulfill certain conditions. In this case one of these conditions might well be agreement by the Iraqi parliament.

The Iraqi constitution says in article 58:

A law shall regulate the ratification of international treaties and agreements by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Council of Representatives.

Lawyers in the state and defense department will have serious caveats about an MOU that is not ratified in Iraq. Without a legally binding treaty immunity of all U.S. personal in Iraq would be at risk.

Iraq may also have to pay a hefty price as an memorandum of understanding will not be a binding protection against lawsuits towards Iraqi money in New York fed accounts.

The UN mandate, which today legally covers the occupation, will run out at the end of this year. To renew it seems to be the only legal alternative to a status of force agreement. It is dubious that the Security Council would agree to again prolong the mandate. The U.S. would certainly have to pay a heavy political price to arrange for the votes.

Posted by b on July 7, 2008 at 16:00 UTC | Permalink


The failure to secure a SOFA or even an MoU serves only to highlight the real larger failure in Iraq. These agreements cannot be signed into international law because they have no political legitimacy, outside the two thugs insisting they be signed. Its an illusion to think things in Iraq have been improving, and the failure to get these agreements prove it. The drop in the "political violence" metric married to the "winning in Iraq" rubric is a propaganda device to reinforce the illusion that the parties have moved toward reconciliation. This is a lie designed to cover a further erosion, exemplified by the deeper inter-sectarian conflicts within say, the Sadrists or the infighting within the Sons of Iraq. Iraq is a country in the midst of a full dimension prison lockdown, with millions exiled either out of country or within in guarded refugee camps, a country socially and economically incompacitated into an inpenetratable warren of walled enclosures, a country run by an autocratic puppet hellbent on crushing all popular representation, outside his own occupation driven clique. The problem of course is that the recent illusions of gain are all dependent upon the lockdown, and will all dissolve if or when the lockdown is is lifted.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 7 2008 19:21 utc | 1

There is the billy goat, and then there is that useless bit of hair waggling under the billy goat's chin.

To take Maliki and the Iraqi Parliament for the billy goat, and a couple hundred thousand heavily armed foreigners as the billy goat's beard is to misunderstand the matter entirely.

The Iraqi government will find a way to continue the Occupation, nice and legal, or the Iraqi government will cease to be.

That is what it is there for -- to waggle about on the chin of the billy goat.

Posted by: Antifa | Jul 7 2008 19:32 utc | 2

up to their old tricks, reminds me of this stage

Both al-Abadi and Tofiq told me about a meeting—never reported in the press—that took place in late October 2003. At that gathering the twenty-five members of Iraq's Governing Council as well as the twenty-five interim ministers decided unanimously that they would not participate in the privatization of Iraq's state-owned companies or of its publicly owned infrastructure.

But Bremer didn't give up. International law prohibits occupiers from selling state assets themselves, but it doesn't say anything about the puppet governments they appoint. Originally, Bremer had pledged to hand over power to a directly elected Iraqi government, but in early November he went to Washington for a private meeting with President Bush and came back with a Plan B. On June 30 the occupation would officially end—but not really. It would be replaced by an appointed government, chosen by Washington. This government would not be bound by the international laws preventing occupiers from selling off state assets, but it would be bound by an “interim constitution,” a document that would protect Bremer's investment and privatization laws.

The plan was risky. Bremer's June 30 deadline was awfully close, and it was chosen for a less than ideal reason: so that President Bush could trumpet the end of Iraq's occupation on the campaign trail. If everything went according to plan, Bremer would succeed in forcing a “sovereign” Iraqi government to carry out his illegal reforms. But if something went wrong, he would have to go ahead with the June 30 handover anyway because by then Karl Rove, and not Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, would be calling the shots. And if it came down to a choice between ideology in Iraq and the electability of George W. Bush, everyone knew which would win.

Then, on March 2, with the Shia members of the Governing Council refusing to sign the interim constitution, five bombs exploded in front of mosques in Karbala and Baghdad, killing close to 200 worshipers. General John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, warned that the country was on the verge of civil war. Frightened by this prospect, al Sistani backed down and the Shia politicians signed the interim constitution. It was a familiar story: the shock of a violent attack paved the way for more shock therapy.

this is a delay tactic designed to get their way later when it is a more politically correct time to pressure the iraqis.

Posted by: annie | Jul 7 2008 21:18 utc | 3

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