October Surprise? Security Agreement said Near Signing; 3000 Christians Flee Mosul

Is this part of a Bush attempt at an October surprise? Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that its sources in Baghdad say that the al-Maliki government will sign off on a security agreement with the Bush administration “within days.” The report says that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has assured the government that he will accept the agreement if it can pass parliament. Pundits are debating how likely the measure is to get through the Iraqi legislature, with some denying it has a chance and others saying it will sail through. Since Bush caved on the timeline for American troop withdrawal, saying we will be out in 2011 assuming the situation allows, I’m not sure the agreement will be so controversial. The Kurds will back it with their 58 seats, and al-Maliki just needs 80 Shiites to back it in order to pass it.

One wild card for al-Maliki is whether the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, headed by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, will back the agreement or attampt to derail it. Shiite MP Qasim Daud alleged that Iran is working through ISCI to derail the agreement.

The alternative to concluding such an agreement is for Iraq to remain under the provisions of Chatper 7 of the UN Charter, which deny it full sovereignty (a step that would be very unpopular in Iraq now). No one wants that.

Obviously, McCain will trumpet a successfully concluded security agreement as yet another benefit of the troop escalation plan or ‘surge’ of 2007-2008. Ironically, the advantages the Republicans have on foreign policy (e.g., Bush gave in on several measures in order to get the agreement initialled before Nov. are now outweighbed by the financial crisis.

Attacks on and assassinations of Christians in Iraq’s northern metropolis of Mosul led to the exodus of several hundred families, perhaps as many as 3,000 individuals, in the past two days. This according to the governor of Ninevah Province, Duraid Kashmula (Mosul is the capital of Ninevah).