McClatchy has published an English translation of the draft security agreement between the Iraqi government and the Bush administration.
‘ If Iraq’s parliament endorses the agreement, in six weeks American forces would have to change the way they operate in Iraq, and all U.S. combat troops, police trainers and military advisers would have to leave the country by Dec. 31, 2011. President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign plan to leave a residual force of some 30,000 American troops in Iraq would be impossible under the pact. Unless the agreement is amended, which would require the formal written approval of both sides, in three years there no longer would be any legal basis for U.S. armed forces or civilian contractors of the Department of Defense to remain in Iraq. If Iraq wants American forces to leave earlier, it could terminate the agreement with one year’s notice. The United States has the option to do the same. ‘
Also, of course, the agreement can be immediately altered if both sides mutually agree to do so.
PM Nuri al-Maliki went on Iraqi t.v. to push for passage of the security agreement. The problem with t.v. in Iraq is that the electricity is off so much of the day that a lot of people cannot see any particular such program.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that controversy rages in raging in Baghdad over the security agreement with Washington that was passed by the Iraqi cabinet on Sunday. The Kurdistan Alliance, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), and the Islamic Da’wa (Missionary) Party were all attempting to line up the votes in parliament to pass it. In contrast,the Sadr Movement was seeking to put together a coalition of parties to oppose the agreement and stop it from being passed by parliament.
The Iraqiya Party of Iyad Allawi has announced that it has severe reservations about the agreement, and would prefer that Iraq go back to the UN Security Council for an extension of its mandate to the multinational forces rather than signing a bilateral treaty with the US.
The Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front also announced that it had reservations about the agreement on Tuesday. Adnan Dulaimi demanded that the remaining thousands of Iraqi Sunnis in US custody be released as part of the price for IAF support of the measure.
The Sadrists have 30 seats in parliament, the Iraqiya has 25, and the Iraqi Accord Front has 44, for a total of 99. They need 138 of 275 (though since not all the MPs are likely to show up, they need 51 percent of the quorum of MPs that does attend the session). It is not clear to me where the Iraqi Dialogue Front, with 11 seats, stands (ex-Baathist secular Sunnis). If they reject the agreement, that would bring the opposition to 110. They would need to pick up 28 Shiite independents in order to block the agreement.
But if ISCI and Da’wa strongly support the agreement, these two powerful parties may well be able to sway the independent Shiites to vote for it..
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s office announced that he is studying the text and will only grant his approval once he is satisfied that it preserves national sovereignty and that a national consensus forms around it. He charged the Iraqi parliament with investigating whether it met those two conditions.
The text of the announcement said, “Sistani informed various political leaders in past days and weeks of the necessity that any agreement must aim at ending the foreign presence in Iraq and removing the country from Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, on two bases. The first is that it must preserve the highest interests of the Iraqi people, past and future, recover for Iraq its complete sovereignty, and bring security and stability. The second is that there must be a national consensus about it. Without these two, no such agreement can be acceptable.”
Meanwhile, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, came out against the agreement. (The rest of the Iraqi establishment seems happy with the 2011 deadline for withdrawal of all US troops. Larijani will probably run for president next spring-summer, and he may be adopting a hard line stance on this issue in hopes of gaining propularity with the Iranian voters.
Al-Hayat also says that in advance of the provincial elections in Iraq now scheduled for 31 January, a conflict has broken out among Shiite parties in the south. The struggle was provoked by the High Electoral Commission, which granted the request of MP Abd al-Latif al-Wa’ili (Independent, supported by Fadhila or Islamic Virtue Party) that a referendum be held on whether Basra should be transformed into an autonomous Federal Region. This move is opposed by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who wants all 9 of the southern provinces to become a Federal Region or confederacy.
The Da’wa (Islamic Mission) Party of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is genrally opposed to the creation of any new Federal Regions that would detract from the authority of the central government. Al-Maliki is currently embroiled in a struggle with the Kurds insofar as he is attempting to reduce the prerogatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
The fourth major Shiite group, the Sadrists led by Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, rejects all federal regions, insisting on the primacy of the central government. They sent a letter to the Arab League detailing the points in the agreement that they believed to be unlawful.
In the Iraqi constitution, federal regions are provincial confederacies that enjoy semi-autonomy and have complete ownership of any new natural resource finds (including oil and gas).
Another plan against which the Basra scheme is competing envisions a union of Basra, Nasiriyah and Amara, for which a campaign has been launched to gather signatures from at least 2 percent of the voters in those three provinces.
In other news, a recently retired senior law lord in the UK has blasted the Iraq War as a serious violation of international law.