As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

SOFA Matters

Yesterday we were treated to the revelation that the Cheney Administration is trying to blackmail the Iraqi government by effectively holding billions of dollars of their assets hostage until they seen the status of forces agreement allowing US military and contractor personnel autonomy and immunity inside Iraq. The Iraqis don't have a lot of cards to play, but they're trying to play them.

The Iraqi government may request an extension of the United Nations security mandate authorizing a U.S. military presence, due to expire in December, amid growing domestic criticism of new bilateral arrangements now being negotiated with the Bush administration, according to senior Iraqi officials.

Iraqis across the political spectrum have objected to Bush administration proposals for unilateral authority over U.S. military operations in Iraq and the detention of Iraqi citizens, immunity for civilian security contractors, and continuing control over Iraqi borders and airspace.

Failure to reach an agreement on the arrangements, which must be approved by the Iraqi parliament, would leave the negotiations over a future U.S.-Iraqi relationship and the role of U.S. forces in the country to the next American president.

For some reason, the Iraqis understand the value of stalling this President and running out the clock more than the Democratic leadership. They have a better sense of how their very future is at stake.

In addition to the political machinations inside the UN, protesters are flooding the streets, denouncing the proposed SOFA and calling on a popular referendum before any agreement becomes law. The popular mobilization here is going to make it almost impossible for the Maliki government to sign any pact with the US. They'd have betrayed their own people and would never survive the next round of elections. Similarly, the pressure being put on them from the other side is enormous. I honestly don't know how it will turn out, but our soldiers' safety and the stability of the nation most certainly hangs in the balance.

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