Last week, President George W. Bush received considerable attention in the media for his announcement that the United States will reduce its troop presence in Iraq. While the reduction is fairly miniscule–8,000 by February 2009–the reduction was largely portrayed as another step towards lessening the United States commitment in Iraq.
As would be expected, the announcement was criticized by Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama as not being a significant change. Last Tuesday, Obama said, “In the absence of the timetable to remove our combat brigades we will continue to give Iraq’s leaders a blank check instead of pressing them to reconcile their differences.” However, as usual, Obama was silent on the fact that he has no plans to end the Iraq War and intends only to withdraw “combat troops”–a vague classification that is never specifically detailed–from Iraq while keeping an unspecified number of troops in Iraq.
Both Bush and Obama also avoided discussing a recently leaked draft agreement between the United States and the Iraqi government that will keep US soldiers in Iraq. The agreement–dated August 6, 2008–outlines how the United States intends to maintain its presence in Iraq. The Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar who works for the American Friends Service Committee offered the following analysis of the agreement:
“There are many outrageous articles in the agreement that violates Iraq’s sovereignty and independence, and gives the U.S. occupation authorities unprecedented rights and privileges, but what has draw my attention the most (so far) are three major points:
1- the agreement does not discuss anything about a complete US withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, it talks about withdrawing “combat troops” without defining what is the difference between combat troops and other troops. It is very clear that the US is planning to stay indefinitely in permanent bases in Iraq (or as the agreement calls them: “installations and areas agreed upon”) where the U.S. will continue training and supporting Iraqis armed forces for the foreseeable future.
2- the agreement goes into effect when the two executive branches exchange “memos”, instead of waiting for Iraqi parliament’s ratification. This is really dangerous, and it is shocking because both the Iraqi and U.S. executive branches have been assuring the Iraqi parliament that no agreement will go into effect without being ratified by Iraq’s MPs.
3- this agreement is the blueprint for keeping other occupation armies (aka Multi-national forces) in Iraq on the long run. This explains the silence regarding what will happened to other occupiers (like the U.K. forces) after the expiration of the UN mandate at the end of this year.
It is really disturbing to read how the U.S. government is still going down the same path of intervention and domination in Iraq.
This agreement will not be accepted by the Iraqi people and their elected representatives in the Iraqi parliament, and if the U.S. and Iraqi executive branches try to consider it valid anyway it will lead to more violence in Iraq.”
The website Truthout.org published an article on the agreement detailing its provisions on withdrawal and troop immunity. The article argues that many Iraqis will see the agreement as entirely unacceptable.