Friday, September 19, 2008

Not So Fast

The much vautned "Status of Forces" Agreement between the U.S. and Iraq that was supposedly on the cusp of completion is in danger:

The major remaining point of contention involves immunity, with the United States maintaining that American troops and military contractors should have the same protections they have in other countries where they are based and Iraq insisting that they be subject to the country’s criminal justice system for any crime committed outside of a military operation, the officials said.

In a television interview this week, Mr. Maliki cited the example of an Iraqi killed by an American soldier in a market, saying that a case like that should fall “to Iraqi courts immediately.”

“This,” he said of the American position, “they reject.”

No doubt Maliki has acquired some backbone on this matter because it bolster's his political popularity at home. And frankly, I'd sell Blackwater contractor's immunity down the river in a heartbeat if it threatened this agreement in substance, but American troops-which are subject to a somewhat reliable military justice system-are a different matter. Maliki's stalling is also probably tied to the coming change in the U.S. administration (as well as his own parliament's contention over the agreement) and it's hard to see an agreement getting drafted anytime soon if the Iraqis are steadfast on no immunity for American soldiers. But the U.N. mandate runs out in December and the likelihood of getting the mandate extended is less thanks to tensions with Russia. Someone in Iraq or D.C. is going to have to blink.

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