SOFA Near to Agreement?; US Combat Troops out by end of 2010? Kurds Unify Peshmerga, Surround Kirkuk

US out of Iraq at end of 2010?

McClatchy reports that two high Iraqi officials are leaking details of an “almost completed” security agreement between Washington and Baghdad.

AP also has some details.

It would be unwise to consider it a done deal, but these are the main points:

  • US troops out of Iraqi cities by June, 2009, on bases
  • US combat troops out of Iraq “by 2011,” i.e. about October 2010.
  • The rest of American soldiers out of Iraq by the end of 2013 [why do they need non-combat troops for three years?]
  • Private American contractors will be subject to Iraqi law and can be tried for crimes in Iraqi courts.
  • US troops need Iraqi permission to arrest Iraqi citizens
  • US troops are not immune from Iraqi law except while on American bases

    Another American official told AP that he thought a withdrawal by 2010 was very “ambitious.”

    Another AP report adds,”One of the U.S. officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had a long and “very difficult” telephone conversation Wednesday in which she pressed the Iraqi leader for more flexibility, particularly on immunity.”

    Al-Hayat reporting in Arabic that on another front, the two major Kurdish parties (the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party) have decided to beef up their security and military forces and to further integrate them in order to confront the challenges that face the Kurds, especially from Iraqi forces that reject the attempt to annex Kirkuk city to the Kurdistan Regional Government.

    The Kurdish step was taken after Arab tribes in Kirkuk Province threatened to use force to defend the Arab character of the city, in the wake of parliament’s failure to find a formula for holding provincial elections in the ethnically diverse province. The Kurdish leaders felt that they had bent over backward to cooperate in these negotiations, even to the point of accepting a United Nations proposal to postpone elections in that province even as they were held elsewhere in Iraq.

    The parties of Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani each maintains a paramilitary, the peshmerga, but despite the unification of Kurdistan’s administration in other regards, integration of these party militias had been incomplete. Talabani and Barzani decided Wednesday to create a more centralized command and financial structure for the peshmerga.

    BBC Monitoring translates from al-Hayat on Aug. 6:

    ‘ “Hours after Mas’ud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan region, threatened to annex Kirkuk in the event of the failure to reach agreement on the governorates elections law and saying the Iraqi parliament’s approval of the law “is a conspiracy against the Kurds”, two brigades from the region’s protection forces (Peshmerga) were deployed in the areas adjacent to the region’s borders with the Kirkuk Governorate in a way that encircled it and closed the roads to the Arab areas in Piji or the Turkomen areas in Daquq and Tazah so as to move into the city. Eyewitnesses told “Al-Hayat” that “these forces set up roadblocks raising the Kurdish flag in a way that aroused discontent among the citizens.”‘

    Not good.

    The Sadr movement’s announcement that the Mahdi Army will be turned into a social works organization is not new. They’ve said this before. Apparently the announcement is because the Iraqi cabinet threatened to exclude Sadrists from elections if they maintained an armed militia. They’ve decided they want to run as independents, and don’t want to be disenfranchised. Whenever they are held the next provincial and parliamentary elections could give the Sadrists a lot of power. In a society where so many men have a gun, the difference between a militia and such an organization anyway isn’t clear, except they’re saying they won’t usually carry around the guns in public. They could get them out at any time, though. The Badr Corps paramilitary of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, until 2003 part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, also says that it is now just the Badr Organization. I guess they are planting trees and giving out free band aids. Why the Wall Street Journal and the National Review are determined to be so naive about such pronouncements by Muslim fundamentalist leaders in Iraq, when they are completely cynical about everything else said by any Muslim elsewhere, beats me.

    A senior leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party a Sunni fundamentalist party that recently rejoined the al-Maliki government, was assassinated in Mosul (the party’s base) on Thursday.

    McClatchy reports political violence on Thursday:

    ‘ Sulaimaniyah

    The body of taxi driver Kereem al-Haj Shereef was found in Shahrazoor plain, 40 km to the east of Sulaimaniyah city, Thursday morning. Al-Haj Sereef was kidnapped yesterday from Sahaba Market.

    Nineveh

    An Islamic Party leader, Mahmoodd Younis Fathi was assassinated by gunmen in the city of Mosul, Thursday morning as Fathi was headed to his office. One of his security personnel was also killed.

    Local police in Mosul got a call reporting a body. Suspecting foul play the police pushed a cart at it and it exploded killing three policemen.

    A car belonging to a kidnapped person was found abandoned and the police towed it into the police station in Baaj, 120 km to the west of Mosul Thursday. Detonated under control the explosion still injured three policemen.

    A suicide car bomb targeted an Iraqi Army headquarters in al-Wahda neighbourhood, Mosul. The guards suspected the car and opened fire when it blew injuring eight policemen.

    A car carrying two men and two women did not halt as joint, Iraqi Army and Police forces deployed for raid and search operations in Shirqat 120 km to the south of Mosul, motioned them to do so late Wednesday. The soldiers opened fire killing both men and one woman, injuring the other, who said they were too afraid to stop at the behest of unknown men on the street so late.’