Iraq wonders if America will respect them in the morning

Rumors are flying about US demands for the new Iraq-US security “agreement.”  It is not a treaty — although it looks like a treaty — as that would require Senate approval.  Under America’s new Constitution-lite government, words mean only what the Executive chooses them to mean — neither more or less.

This post gives excerpts from various sources about the terms the Bush Administration demands from the Iraq government in exchange for American support. 

  1. Both Sunni and Shiite Iraqis have united to reject the draft of a security agreement proposed by the US“, From Al-Hayat, posted by Juan Cole, at Informed Comment  (3 June 2008)
  2. Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control“, Patrick Cockburn, The Independent (5 June 2008)
  3. Sistani’s views about the security pact“, From Al-Hayat, posted by Juan Cole, at Informed Comment  (5 June 2008)
  4. Update:  “U.S. seeking 58 bases in Iraq, Shiite lawmakers say“, McClatchy Newspapers (9 June 2008)
  5. Update:  “Iraqi PM: Security deal with U.S. at ‘dead end’“, MSNBC (13 June 2008) — “Talks hit stalemate over demand to secure immunity for GIs, contractors”

All very colonial, except that America gets power but no money.  Bush is foolish about these mundane things.  Private American interests will, of course, continue to profit handsomely in Iraq.

Update: an insightful comment by Ilan Goldenberg, posted at Democracy Arsenal:

Here’s the problem. The Bush Administration wants two things that are utterly incompatible.

First it wants an agreement that defines America’s long-term commitment and provides legal protections for our troops.  But then it is also set on provincial elections for the fall. Here’s the problem with that. Nothing is more unpopular with the Iraqi people, then supporting an agreement that is seen as putting in place a long-term American occupation. Sadr is already using this to great political benefit. Organizing rallies and publicly opposing the agreement. 

… If ISCI were to support an agreement along these lines, they would get absolutely creamed in the provincial elections, and the faction that is supportive of the keeping American troops in Iraq would be dramatically weakened. But without some kind of agreement you really can’t keep American forces in Iraq.

I.  Both Sunni and Shiite Iraqis have united to reject the draft of a security agreement proposed by the US“, From Al-Hayat, posted by Juan Cole, at Informed Comment  (3 June 2008) — IMO this is the best article posted this week, brief and wonderful. — Slightly reformatted:

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that both Sunni and Shiite Iraqis have united to reject the draft of a security agreement proposed by the United States.  A high-level Iraqi source told the pan-Arab London daily that …  {the US wants 9 things}

(1)  the US wants its troops to have complete freedom of movement in the country, whereas the Iraqis want it to be limited.

(2) The Americans are said to be seeking to retain the right to dominate Iraqi air space up to 29,000 feet, and

(3) to gain open access to the land, air and water of Iraq.

(4) The US wants to retain the right to arrest and detain any Iraqi whom the US believes represents a security threat.

(5)  Washington desires the right to launch military operations to chase terrorists without seeking Iraqi government permission.

(6) The US wants immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts for American troops, contractors and corporations in Iraq.

(7) The US also wants to retain the right to define terrorism against Iraq.

(8)  It does not want to give any undertaking that it will defend Iraq from any outside attack unless it is convinced about the nature of that attack.

(9) Likewise it is not offering to safeguard the democratic regime in Iraq.

Iraqis for their part are demanding a recognition of Iraqi sovereignty.

I love the last line.  Sure, folks, America will respect you in the morning.  I suspect that this agreement, when or if finalized, cannot be approved by either Iraq’s Parliament or the US Senate.  So both government’s will just enact it and pretend it is legal.

II.  Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control“, Patrick Cockburn, The Independent (5 June 2008) — “Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors”  (Hat tip to Juan Cole) — Excerpt:

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq’s position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.

… The precise nature of the American demands has been kept secret until now. The leaks are certain to generate an angry backlash in Iraq. “It is a terrible breach of our sovereignty,” said one Iraqi politician, adding that if the security deal was signed it would delegitimise the government in Baghdad which will be seen as an American pawn.

The US has repeatedly denied it wants permanent bases in Iraq but one Iraqi source said: “This is just a tactical subterfuge.” Washington also wants control of Iraqi airspace below 29,000ft and the right to pursue its “war on terror” in Iraq, giving it the authority to arrest anybody it wants and to launch military campaigns without consultation.

… Although Iraqi ministers have said they will reject any agreement limiting Iraqi sovereignty, political observers in Baghdad suspect they will sign in the end and simply want to establish their credentials as defenders of Iraqi independence by a show of defiance now. The one Iraqi with the authority to stop deal is the majority Shia spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In 2003, he forced the US to agree to a referendum on the new Iraqi constitution and the election of a parliament. But he is said to believe that loss of US support would drastically weaken the Iraqi Shia, who won a majority in parliament in elections in 2005.

The US is adamantly against the new security agreement being put to a referendum in Iraq, suspecting that it would be voted down. The influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on his followers to demonstrate every Friday against the impending agreement on the grounds that it compromises Iraqi independence.

… The signature of a security agreement, and a parallel deal providing a legal basis for keeping US troops in Iraq, is unlikely to be accepted by most Iraqis. But the Kurds, who make up a fifth of the population, will probably favour a continuing American presence, as will Sunni Arab political leaders who want US forces to dilute the power of the Shia. The Sunni Arab community, which has broadly supported a guerrilla war against US occupation, is likely to be split.

III.  Sistani’s views about the security pact“, From Al-Hayat, posted by Juan Cole, at Informed Comment  (5 June 2008) —

Al-Hayat writing in Arabic reportsthat Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (the leading bloc in parliament and keystone of the government of Nuri al-Maliki) is saying he spoke to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani about the security agreement with Washington. He says that Sistani laid out four points to which any such agreement must adhere:

  • National sovereignty
  • Transparency
  • National consensus
  • Parliamentary approval of it

Al-Hakim said that his own party felt the current American draft detracts too much from Iraq’s sovereignty and fails to protect Iraqi wealth. He said that Sistani did not go into details but stressed general principles. He maintained that in general Sistani shared the concerns of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

 IV.  U.S. seeking 58 bases in Iraq, Shiite lawmakers say“, McClatchy Newspapers (9 June 2008) — Excerpt:

Iraqi lawmakers say the United States is demanding 58 bases as part of a proposed “status of forces” agreement that will allow U.S. troops to remain in the country indefinitely.

Leading members of the two ruling Shiite parties said in a series of interviews the Iraqi government rejected this proposal along with another U.S. demand that would have effectively handed over to the United States the power to determine if a hostile act from another country is aggression against Iraq. Lawmakers said they fear this power would drag Iraq into a war between the United States and Iran.

“The points that were put forth by the Americans were more abominable than the occupation,” said Jalal al Din al Saghir, a leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. “We were occupied by order of the Security Council,” he said, referring to the 2004 Resolution mandating a U.S. military occupation in Iraq at the head of an international coalition. “But now we are being asked to sign for our own occupation. That is why we have absolutely refused all that we have seen so far.”

Other conditions sought by the United States include control over Iraqi air space up to 30,000 feet and immunity from prosecution for U.S. troops and private military contractors. The agreement would run indefinitely but be subject to cancellation with two years notice from either side, lawmakers said.

“It would impair Iraqi sovereignty,” said Ali al Adeeb a leading member of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Dawa party of the proposed accord. “The Americans insist so far that is they who define what is an aggression on Iraq and what is democracy inside Iraq… if we come under aggression we should define it and ask for help.”

Both Saghir and Adeeb said that the Iraqi government rejected the terms as unacceptable. They said the government wants a U.S. presence and a U.S. security guarantee but also wants to control security within the country, stop indefinite detentions of Iraqis by U.S. forces and have a say in U.S. forces’ conduct in Iraq.

The 58 bases would represent an expansion of the U.S. presence here. Currently, the United States operates out of about 30 major bases, not including smaller facilities such as combat outposts, according to a U.S. military map.

” Is there sovereignty for Iraq – or isn’t there? If it is left to them, they would ask for immunity even for the American dogs,” Saghir said. “We have given Bush our views – some new ideas and I find that there is a certain harmony between his thoughts and ours. And he promised to tell the negotiators to change their methods.”

Please share your comments by posting below.  Brief!  Stay on topic!  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling)

For more information about the Iraq War

  1. My posts about the war
  2. Important articles about the Iraq War– include some about our use of airpower.
  3. Our goals and benchmarks, and reports about progress towards them

13 thoughts on “Iraq wonders if America will respect them in the morning

  1. All of this sounds much the extraterritoriality treaties China was forced to submit to in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Under these circumstances, I would propose we argue that our Iraq policy has been “Shanghaied.” However, given the public’s historical ignorance, that reference would fall flat.

  2. I once gave a translated 18th century Japanese book as gift to a friend of mine (and read it first). It was about Japanese wisdoms and anecdotes.

    One anecdote was about a powerful prince who had a politically weak and unimpressive son as successor. He knew that this would become a problem. The prince deliberately did many mistakes in his last years alive to close the gap between him and his son. The son became prince after his father’s death and had a much easier start than he would have had as successor to a powerful prince who did everything right.

    I remember this story every time when I hear about a supposed public conflict between the Iraqi government and the U.S. I ask myself every time “did they finally understand that they need to sacrifice their own face to strengthen their puppet government?

    One such case was the Blackwater affair, but Rice blew it and sucked royally at that opportunity, preferring to protect some mercs over strengthening the puppet government. Poor choice.

    Now they have another opportunity. Btw, I agree with Duncan.

  3. Sven,

    I’m a little confused. There is a “right way” to strengthen a puppet government, short of pulling out and leaving it to its own devices?

    When we eventually do that, a stronger Iraqi government may well emerge, but it will have little in common with the group in the Green Zone today.

  4. Update: an insightful comment by Ilan Goldenberg, posted at Democracy Arsenal:

    “Here’s the problem. The Bush Administration wants two things that are utterly incompatible.

    “First it wants an agreement that defines America’s long-term commitment and provides legal protections for our troops. But then it is also set on provincial elections for the fall. Here’s the problem with that. Nothing is more unpopular with the Iraqi people, then supporting an agreement that is seen as putting in place a long-term American occupation. Sadr is already using this to great political benefit. Organizing rallies and publicly opposing the agreement. … If ISCI were to support an agreement along these lines, they would get absolutely creamed in the provincial elections, and the faction that is supportive of the keeping American troops in Iraq would be dramatically weakened. But without some kind of agreement you really can’t keep American forces in Iraq.”

  5. Chet, what I wrote about is roughly related to the “legitimacy” talk.

    It’s not always necessary that the facts are convincing. The image as perceived, the beliefs are important. We’ve read again and again that Arabs are not always eager to check hard facts, but often believe rather weird stories.

    This sounds to me like an opportunity for PsyOps, like propaganda and political manipulation. This is not nice – but I think that the support for the government can be strengthened fairly easy. The easiest ways are at the expense of the U.S. (at least losing face).

    PsyOps don’t seem to focus much on strengthening the government, it’s caught in the “who’s the evil guy” topic and on manipulation of politics at home to buy time.

    Give Maliki the chance to embarrass the U.S. and UK several times in few months and achieve improvements – I bet he’ll be much, much stronger than ever before afterwards.

    The Basra battle was his only success that I know about (I don’t observe Iraq very closely, though) – and the British almost ruined it by claiming that the Iraqi forces were incompetent, incapable and that they themselves were significantly involved in the Basra success.

    Fabius Maximus replies: Let’s have a reality check: “We’ve read again and again that Arabs Americans are not always eager to check hard facts, but often believe rather weird stories.” How true! That is, after all, the basis for advertising and urban legends!

    “This sounds to me like an opportunity for PsyOps, like propaganda and political manipulation.” Any examples of large-scale success with psyops? Consider the success of our Governments own efforts to use info ops to change American’s behavior. They are working with a familar culture and usually fail.

  6. Straight colonisation. At least they are being honest about it instead of rabbiting on about WMD, terrorists, democracy, etc.

    Iraqis would have about the same local power and rights as (say) the Irish in the 1800’s, which is to say .. none. I like the ‘freedom from Iraqi law’ . An Uber Class.

    This is where I disagree with Sadr (putting my mind into their position). He has played a clever game until now. Now is the time for a Tet moment. Yes they will lose (or more likely draw). There will be a terrible price (Basra and Sadr city will be rubble). But politically this is the time to do a full Shiite fight and (say) reduce the Green Zone to Rubble.

    About the only chance for an Obama win and a withdrawel. McCain (currently the far most likely winner) won’t withdraw and this could go on for another 8 years, with ever increasing escalation (e.g a draft?).

  7. I disagree on the Tet issue. The VC and NVa had no serious competitors other than the ARVN/USA factions. The Shi’ites cannot bleed themselves dry and still emerge as victor because the Sunni or even the Kurds would become more powerful in relation.

    The legitimacy of the whole Iraq involvement would take severe damage if Western news media would report impartially on these outrageous demands.

    Btw, I also disagree on McCain. He’s been spared by the media, his time under fire will come and that will be when he will lose voters. He has too many contradictions and isn’t firm on too many policy areas (like economy, and even occasionally Iraq!) – he’s really vulnerable and that will be exploited. Furthermore, I have still the hope that the U.S. American voters ar enot silly enough to continue this Republican reign.

  8. “Any examples of large-scale success with psyops? Consider the success of our Governments own efforts to use info ops to change American’s behavior. They are working with a familar culture and usually fail.”

    Uhmm, let’s see. Several nations continued fierce wars even long after defeat was assured. That’s usually being considered as a result of propaganda/PsyOps.

    * Bush not impeached? I’d say that’s a success in what you consider a failure.

    * NATO attacked Yugslavia on Albanian’s behalf? Result of PsyOps.

    * Thousands of Russians deserting in response to a PsyOps campaign staged by the Wehrmacht as late as 1944…

    * Taleban rolling over other Afghani civil war factions (before 2002); mostly a result of PsyOps-backed diplomacy.

    * Czechoslovakia surrendering to Germany in 1939 without war; result of PsyOps (the Czechoslovakian prime minister collapsed when Hitler threatened to bomb Prague with gas bombs).

    And don’t let me start on support for Israel…
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: Considering “Bush not impeached” as a result of psy-ops? It looks like you define psy-ops far more broadly than I do.

  9. I took your example…
    (“Consider the success of our Governments own efforts to use info ops to change American’s behavior.”)

    And in fact “PsyOps” is just a more politically correct word for “propaganda”, which includes one-sided and misleading political information in general.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: I used this definition in an (unsuccessful) attempt to narrow the field. Like using drugs or smoking. Driving more slowly. Or to stop blowing up our soldiers with IED’s. As opposed to routine political efforts like “please do not impeach me.” Otherwise so many of the government’s interactions with us that the term has no substantial meaning. Every press conference, every bulliten is psy-ops.

  10. “Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large numbers of people. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.”
    (Wikipedia)

    Every press conference is a part of propaganda. We’ve lost the sense for this because we considered ourselves as the free world in contrast to the Reds, but most information sources are not impartial.

    PsyOps = propaganda originating in military/police forces according to wiki

    Btw the German translation to “PsyOps” (“Operative Information”) is a very unknown one (probably because our military is so unimportant in ours ociety), so we still use the more honest word “propaganda” (not in official Bw language, of course).

  11. Update: IV. “U.S. seeking 58 bases in Iraq, Shiite lawmakers say“, McClatchy Newspapers (9 June 2008) — Excerpt:

    Iraqi lawmakers say the United States is demanding 58 bases as part of a proposed “status of forces” agreement that will allow U.S. troops to remain in the country indefinitely.

    Leading members of the two ruling Shiite parties said in a series of interviews the Iraqi government rejected this proposal along with another U.S. demand that would have effectively handed over to the United States the power to determine if a hostile act from another country is aggression against Iraq. Lawmakers said they fear this power would drag Iraq into a war between the United States and Iran.

    “The points that were put forth by the Americans were more abominable than the occupation,” said Jalal al Din al Saghir, a leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. “We were occupied by order of the Security Council,” he said, referring to the 2004 Resolution mandating a U.S. military occupation in Iraq at the head of an international coalition. “But now we are being asked to sign for our own occupation. That is why we have absolutely refused all that we have seen so far.”

    Other conditions sought by the United States include control over Iraqi air space up to 30,000 feet and immunity from prosecution for U.S. troops and private military contractors. The agreement would run indefinitely but be subject to cancellation with two years notice from either side, lawmakers said.

    “It would impair Iraqi sovereignty,” said Ali al Adeeb a leading member of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Dawa party of the proposed accord. “The Americans insist so far that is they who define what is an aggression on Iraq and what is democracy inside Iraq… if we come under aggression we should define it and ask for help.”

    Both Saghir and Adeeb said that the Iraqi government rejected the terms as unacceptable. They said the government wants a U.S. presence and a U.S. security guarantee but also wants to control security within the country, stop indefinite detentions of Iraqis by U.S. forces and have a say in U.S. forces’ conduct in Iraq.

    The 58 bases would represent an expansion of the U.S. presence here. Currently, the United States operates out of about 30 major bases, not including smaller facilities such as combat outposts, according to a U.S. military map.

    ” Is there sovereignty for Iraq – or isn’t there? If it is left to them, they would ask for immunity even for the American dogs,” Saghir said. “We have given Bush our views – some new ideas and I find that there is a certain harmony between his thoughts and ours. And he promised to tell the negotiators to change their methods.”

  12. Update: Iraqi PM: Security deal with U.S. at ‘dead end’“, MSNBC (13 June 2008) — “Talks hit stalemate over demand to secure immunity for GIs, contractors.” Excerpt:

    Talks with the United States on a new long-term security pact have reached a “dead end” because of U.S. demands that infringed Iraq’s sovereignty, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Friday.

    “We have reached a dead end, because when we started the talks, we found that the U.S. demands hugely infringe on the sovereignty of Iraq, and this we can never accept,” Maliki told journalists during a visit to neighboring Jordan.

    The agreement would provide a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires this year. Failure to strike a deal would leave the future of the American military presence here to the next administration.

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