Iraq Cabinet Proposes lifting Immunity for Private Security Guards

The Iraqi cabinet has reported out draft legislation that will remove immunity from prosecution for private security guards such as those of Blackwater. The immunity was put into law by US viceroy Paul Bremer in 2003-2004 when the US was running Iraq as a colony. Such ‘extra-territoriality’ is common in a colonial situation, since it would be unseemly for ‘natives’ to sit in judgment of citizens of the metropole. Typically the first thing modern nationalist regimes like Egypt did when they moved toward independence of colonial powers such as Britain was to abolish extraterritoriality, i.e. laws shielding foreign residents from prosecution inn local courts. Extraterritoriality for US troops in Iran in the 1960s was one of Khomeini’s complaints against the Shah. The Iraqi cabinet move is a step toward renewed independence and self-assertion for the Iraqi government vis-a-vis the United States. Now if only the al-Malik government could assert itself in, and provide services for, Iraq itself.

Sen. Pat Leahy is slamming the Bush administration for bestowing immunity on private US security guards in Iraq. Since Iraq’s new law will not affect past infractions, the US courts are the only arena where murders might have been punished. Not likely.

Mark Kukis of Time in Baghdad asks if the recent horrific violence in Baquba (see below) is a signpost for the future. The US troop escalation can’t last forever, and by this time next year there will be at most 130,000 US troops in Iraq. As the extra units are drawn down, will the violence start up again? Likely, yes.

Iran is denying that it has any role in killing US troops in Iraq. Since the Iranian regime has not been shy in claiming credit for, e.g., Hizbullah attacks on Israel, it is significant that it is going out of its way to deny the US allegations.

The Turkish military is still squeezing PKK guerrillas and trying to close off their escape routes in eastern Anatolia near the Iraq border.