Sunday, July 13, 2008

Iraqis assert their sovereignty

By Libby Spencer

Big week in Iraq on the political front. The good news is that Iraqis are apparently beginning to reconcile. The bad news is they're in agreement that they want the US out of Iraq. Oh wait, that's good news too, at least to those of us who agree the occupation has to end as soon as possible.

I'm thrilled to learn the SOFA negotiations have broken down over Bush's arrogant demands that Iraq essentially abrogate their sovereignty to us.

In May, Iraqi and foreign media published U.S. negotiators' demands that one administration official now describes as "frankly unrealistic," including unilateral control over U.S. combat and detainee operations, immunity for U.S. personnel from Iraqi prosecution, and control over Iraqi airspace. Additional accounts outlined a list of 58 separate military installations that would remain under U.S. control.

I already remarked on the US media's failure to inform at Newshoggers, so I won't repeat those points here but I'll add that I find it stunning we have 58 separate military installations considering how small our footprint really is there relative to the population. I guess I don't read the foreign press often enough.

In any event, Maliki and Bush are now trying to hammer out a temporary pact covering 2009 that can be signed without legislative endorsement on either side and any long term agreement will be postponed until the next president takes office. Assuming it's not McCain, that can only be good for everyone.

In related news, the Iraqis also want to liberate themselves from their 'liberators' by taking back control of the Green Zone and sending the US troops outside of the cities. They're willing to let us keep the Vatican city sized embassy there but an Iraqi spokesman says the walled enclave around it is making the locals angry and has to come down by the end of the year. That should put the true nature of the security situation into perspective for all those who have been living and visiting inside the five square mile safety bubble where the suicide attacks don't occur and the water and electricity never fails.

Meanwhile, the White House is making noises about a drawdown of US troops as early as this fall. Maybe it's more than just posturing for the benefit of the GOP prior to the election, or maybe they really don't have a choice, given the Iraqis clear desire to have us leave and the increasingly pressing need for troops in Afghanistan. Our DefSec Gates "has already extended the deployment of a force of 3,200 marines in southern Afghanistan by one month" in anticipation of the winter slowdown in fighting and is enacting plans for greater military support in the spring.

"We have clearly seen an increase in violence in Afghanistan," Gates said at Fort Lewis, discussing the carrier's redeployment. "At the same time, we've seen a reduction in violence and casualties in Iraq. And I think it's just part of our commitment to ensure that we have the resources available to be successful in Afghanistan over the long haul."

Funny it seems like not so long ago, Bush was declaring Afghanistan a success story, as in a war already won, using it as proof we could 'win' in Iraq too. Oh sorry, that was four years ago. How time flies when you're celebrating victory.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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