inconvenient facts

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home about Iraq Loopholes in U.S.-Iraq security pact

Loopholes in U.S.-Iraq security pact

User Rating: / 0

U.S. troops in Iraq

A reinterpretation of the recently signed U.S.-Iraq security pact leaves loopholes in the agreement undermining the very concessions originally negotiated.  U.S. troops will no longer be compelled to vacate Iraqi cities as called for by the Status-of-Forces Agreement (SOFA).  Exposing the deal’s loopholes threatens a rejection by the Iraqi public via the proposed July 2009 national referendum.


Though the Iraqi parliament debated and eventually passed the SOFA with the U.S. that would remove U.S. troops from Iraqi cities by mid-2009, it turns out that the Bush and al-Maliki regimes have reinterpreted the provisions of the agreement to permit U.S. soldiers to remain in active combat roles in Iraqi cities indefinitely.

While the reversal of the security pact's intent is not unexpected, the fact that the ‘loophole’ is being publicized so quickly after Iraq's parliament passed the pact is, indeed, quite brazen.

After months of intense negotiations, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki put his own political life, and that of his party’s, on the line by submitting a security pact that would permit the continued presence of U.S. forces in Iraq commencing with the end of the UN mandate, scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

Yesterday, however, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, admitted that yet-to-be-negotiated U.S. troops would remain in Iraqi cities past the mid-2009 deadline imposed by the security pact as part of so-called “transition teams”, manning numerous security outposts closely coordinated with Iraqi soldiers.  The same day, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell also revealed another loophole: U.S. troops will continue to remain in active combat roles at the “invitation of the Iraqi Parliament”.  Such an ‘invitation’ would not require a passage of law, but merely the ‘request’ of pro-U.S. Prime Minister al-Maliki.

Both revelations followed on the heels of Friday’s expose in Washington when top Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, conceded that U.S. troops would be in Iraq for another 10 years.

Opposition Sunni lawmakers are already crying foul.

Perhaps such blatant, duplicitous deception animated the Sunni Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi to throw his shoes at President Bush today at a press conference after the outgoing American leader signed the U.S.-Iraq security pact.  Al-Zaidi shouted: “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!” as he threw the first shoe, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” as he threw the second, and continued to curse Bush for being the murderer of innocent Iraqi women and children.

Background on SOFA negotiations

Prime Minister Al-Maliki faced stiff opposition, including from his own senior coalition partner, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, a Shiite political party led by stalwarts that lived in exile in Iran during Saddam Hussein’s reign, and who are still believed to be heavily influenced by Tehran which has publicly denounced the agreement.  Yet, the most vociferous opposition to date has been voiced by the ardent anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who was able to gather tens of thousands of supporters in protest marches through Baghdad.

Despite the opposition, however, al-Maliki was able to convince the three-man Iraqi presidential triumvirate, composed of a Sunni, a Kurd and a Shia, to sign off on the deal – a veto by any of the three would have killed the proposed pact.  Instrumental in obtaining the support of the presidential triumvirate, and his fellow legislators, al-Maliki and his team of negotiators were able to secure a number of key concessions hitherto opposed by the Bush administration: namely, and most importantly, that U.S. forces would vacate Iraqi cities by mid-2009 by retreating to their bases, and withdraw from the country by 2011.

It was on the basis of these major concessions that al-Maliki presented the security pact to a hostile Iraqi parliament, which had to postpone a vote on the agreement after days of raucous debate threatened to collapse the fragile Iraqi parliamentary system.  In the meantime, bowing to pressure exerted by opposition parties - particularly from members representing anti-American constituencies with an eye to upcoming provincial elections - al-Maliki’s ruling Dawa Party agreed to hold a nation-wide referendum on the security pact by July 2009.

Eventually, when Parliament resumed and the vote was held, the security pact did pass.  Interestingly, members of Parliament intimated to the press that should the Iraqi public reject the agreement in the proposed July 2009 referendum, U.S. troops would have to leave Iraq by mid-2010 – ironically, the same exact 16-month timeframe for withdrawal proposed by president-elect Barack Obama.