Fearing political division in the parliament and in his country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki won't sign the just-completed agreement on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq, a leading lawmaker said Friday.
The new accord's demise would be a major setback for the Bush administration, which has been seeking to establish a legal basis for the extended presence of the 151,000 U.S. troops in this country, and for Iraq, which won notable concessions in the draft accord reached a week ago.
"No, he will not" submit the agreement to the parliament, Sheikh Jalal al Din al Sagheer, the deputy head of the Shiite Muslim Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, told McClatchy. "For this matter, we need national consensus."
Instead, Sagheer said, Iraq's political leaders are considering seeking an extension of the United Nations mandate for the presence of U.S. troops, which will expire on Dec. 31. Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has assured Iraq that it wouldn't veto an extension, he said, adding that one was likely to last between six months and a year.
Ali al Adeeb, the chief of staff of Maliki's Dawa party, said Wednesday that the Iraqi parliament "cannot approve this pact in its current form."
The accord contains a number of American concessions, calling for U.S. troops to withdraw to their bases by June 2009 and to leave Iraq by the end of 2011 — both dates subject to extension, but only if the Iraqi government requests it.
The accord also would allow Iraq to prosecute U.S. troops except when they're on U.S. bases or on military operations, strips private military contractors of U.S. legal protection and reclaims control over Baghdad's "Green" zone, the location of the U.S. Embassy and military headquarters and much of the Iraqi government's headquarters.
So, after making a number of crucial concessions to the Shiite dominated government, representatives of Maliki's Dawa Party and SIIC are now telling us to kiss off. If you're beginning to think that maybe they feel like they've gotten about all they need out of our 4000+ dead soldiers, you might be onto something. Not that they should be grateful for being invaded, but we would appear to be the ones getting played here as anti-American sentiment is apparently quite popular in Iraq these days. Of course, we're not helping ourselves with this sort of thing:
Iran joined Syria on Monday in condemning what they described as an attack by four United States helicopters on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq that they said killed eight people.
The United States confirmed that a Special Operations mission took place in the area on Sunday, but a senior military official gave no more details for now.
The United States is trying to negotiate a strategic agreement with Iraq that would allow American troops to remain in the country and carry out military operations. The pact faces strenuous opposition from neighboring countries, especially Syria and Iran, because of concerns that the United States might use Iraqi territory to carry out attacks on them.
Syria’s state-run news channel reported that United States helicopters on Sunday attacked an area within Syria near the town of Abu Kamal. The official news agency, SANA, cited an anonymous official as saying that four American helicopters had “launched aggression on a civilian building under construction,” killing eight people, giving the details of those it said were killed, and that the Syrian deputy foreign minister had summoned the chargé d’affaires from the American and Iraqi Embassies in protest.
Syria also said that United States soldiers on the ground had stormed a building in the area, Reuters reported.
Now, I'm assuming our troops were going after a high value target in this instance (and you'd be naive to think this is the first time we've done this sort of thing), or maybe we're "sending a message" to Syria regarding the negotiations over the agreement (which Syria opposes, of course) but I can about guarantee that quite a few Iraqis will be upset about this as well. This appears to be part of spate of activity along the border with Syria in recent days, the nature and purpose of which is unknown.