On Monday, President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki signed a non-binding “Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship” that will set the parameters for negotiating an “enduring” political, economic, cultural, and security relationship between the United States and Iraq. In the agreement, the two heads of state agreed to “extend the mandate of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter” for one final year, which will give the two countries “another year to negotiate our bilateral arrangement” that will address “issues such as what mission U.S. forces in Iraq will pursue, whether they will establish permanent bases, and what kind of immunity, if any, should be granted to private security contractors.” The statement envisions that by the end of President Bush’s term, Iraq will be removed from its Chapter 7 U.N. designation “as a threat to international peace and security,” which it has been under since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. The underlying deal of the agreement, according to “two senior officials,” is “a long-term troop presence in Iraq and preferential treatment for American investments in return for an American guarantee of long-term security including defense against internal coups.” The “shape and size” of the long-term commitment of troops is yet to be determined, according to White House war czar Gen. Doug Lute, but it will be “a key part of the negotiations” that occur over the next year.
PERMANENT BASES?: In the security section of the agreement, the United States commits in concept to help “deter foreign aggression against Iraq” as well as “combat all terrorist groups, at the forefront of which is Al-Qaeda, Saddamists, and all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation.” The White House will not say definitively whether such a security guarantee will require permanent bases for American troops. In a press briefing on Monday, Lute said that bases are “another dimension of continuing U.S. support to the government of Iraq, and will certainly be a key item for negotiation next year.” In June, Bush administration officials told The New York Times that they envision “maintaining three or four major bases in the country.” Maliki’s administration has given unclear and at times conflicting accounts of his position on permanent bases. Haidar Abadi, a Shiite parliament member who serves as an adviser to al-Maliki, told Tribune Newspapers that “no military bases will be offered for long terms like in South Korea,” but in a conference call with reporters, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, refused to rule out the possibility of bases, saying only that it “is going to be discussed with the political parties.” Iraq’s National Security Adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie has previously told the White House that there should be “no military bases for Iraq.”
WHO NEEDS CONGRESS?: According to Lute, the bilateral arrangement that will be worked out over the next year is not intended to “lead to the status of a formal treaty,” but will establish more of a status of forces agreement (SOFA), which is “the basic document for garrisoning U.S. forces on foreign soil.” “We don’t anticipate now that these negotiations will lead to the status of a formal treaty which would then bring us to formal negotiations or formal inputs from the Congress,” said Lute. If the Bush administration wants “to commit the United States to the long-term security of Iraq without a word of discussion with Congress” through a status of forces agreement, then it will be in accord with “historical practice,” according to Peggy McGuinness, a former State Department official and current law professor at the University of Missouri, because “a SOFA is usually a purely executive agreement.” The agreement’s lack of congressional input was blasted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) office, who said that “President Bush is now trying to unilaterally negotiate an agreement with Iraq on security — an area [where] the President has absolutely zero credibility.” The situation is quite different, however, in Iraq. The Iraqi constitution requires that the Iraqi parliament ratify “international treaties and agreements by a two-thirds majority.” The approval of the agreement by Iraq’s parliament is in no way guaranteed, considering that in May, 144 out of 275 parliamentarians signed a petition calling for a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces. In fact, the agreement is already drawing criticism from various sections of the Iraqi parliament.
POLITICAL RECONCILIATION?: In his press conference on Monday, Lute said that he is “confident that” the agreement “will actually contribute to” political “reconciliation in the long run.” Lute says the agreement “will cause different sects inside the Iraqi political structure not to have to hedge their bet in a go-it-alone-like setting” because “they’ll be able to bet on the reliable partnership of the United States.” Lute’s optimistic assessment of the political persuasiveness of a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq is contradicted somewhat by the opposition the agreement is already facing. According to correspondents for the BBC, the prospect that “US investors benefiting from preferential treatment could earn huge profits from Iraq’s vast oil reserves” is “causing widespread resentment among Iraqis.” Both Sunni and Shia politicians have said that they worry the agreement could lead to “U.S. interference for years to come.” One leading Iraqi politician, Saleh Mutlaq, who heads the smaller of two Sunni blocs in parliament, said that his constituency will view the deal as “a U.S. imposition” and that a timetable for withdrawal is needed instead. In fact, contrary to what the Bush administration claims, a date certain for redeployment of troops out of Iraq is more likely the needed “leverage to advance a political settlement between Iraq’s warring factions.”
Critical policy analysis by Truthout regarding the agreement: click here
Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America
As Iraqi leaders confirmed in their Communiqué signed on August 26, 2007, and endorsed by President Bush, the Governments of Iraq and the United States are committed to developing a long-term relationship of cooperation and friendship as two fully sovereign and independent states with common interests. This relationship will serve the interest of coming generations based on the heroic sacrifices made by the Iraqi people and the American people for the sake of a free, democratic, pluralistic, federal, and unified Iraq.
The relationship of cooperation envisioned by the Republic of Iraq and the United States includes a range of issues, foremost of which is cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, and security fields, taking account of the following principles:
First: The Political, Diplomatic, and Cultural Spheres
1. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in defending its democratic system against internal and external threats.
2. Respecting and upholding the Constitution as the expression of the will of the Iraqi people and standing against any attempt to impede, suspend, or violate it.
3. Supporting the efforts of the Republic of Iraq to achieve national reconciliation including as envisioned in the Communiqué of August 26.
4. Supporting the Republic of Iraq’s efforts to enhance its position in regional and international organizations and institutions so that it may play a positive and constructive role in the region and the world.
5. Cooperating jointly with the states of the region on the basis of mutual respect, non-intervention in internal affairs, rejection of the use of violence in resolving disputes, and adoption of constructive dialogue in resolving outstanding problems among the various states of the region.
6. Promoting political efforts to establish positive relationships between the states of the region and the world, which serve the common goals of all relevant parties in a manner that enhances the security and stability of the region, and the prosperity of its peoples.
7. Encouraging cultural, educational, and scientific exchanges between the two countries.
Second: The Economic Sphere
1. Supporting Iraq’s development in various economic fields, including its productive capabilities, and aiding its transition to a market economy.
2. Encouraging all parties to abide by their commitments as stipulated in the International Compact with Iraq.
3. Supporting the building of Iraq’s economic institutions and infrastructure with the provision of financial and technical assistance to train and develop competencies and capacities of vital Iraqi institutions.
4. Supporting Iraq’s further integration into regional and international financial and economic organizations.
5. Facilitating and encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments, to contribute to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq.
6. Assisting Iraq in recovering illegally exported funds and properties, especially those smuggled by the family of Saddam Hussein and his regime’s associates, as well as antiquities and items of cultural heritage, smuggled before and after April 9, 2003.
7. Helping the Republic of Iraq to obtain forgiveness of its debts and compensation for the wars waged by the former regime.
8. Supporting the Republic of Iraq to obtain positive and preferential trading conditions for Iraq within the global marketplace including accession to the World Trade Organization and most favored nation status with the United States.
Third: The Security Sphere
1. Providing security assurances and commitments to the Republic of Iraq to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace.
2. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to combat all terrorist groups, at the forefront of which is Al-Qaeda, Saddamists, and all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation, and destroy their logistical networks and their sources of finance, and defeat and uproot them from Iraq. This support will be provided consistent with mechanisms and arrangements to be established in the bilateral cooperation agreements mentioned herein.
3. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in training, equipping, and arming the Iraqi Security Forces to enable them to protect Iraq and all its peoples, and completing the building of its administrative systems, in accordance with the request of the Iraqi government.
The Iraqi Government in confirmation of its resolute rights under existing Security Council resolutions will request to extend the mandate of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter for a final time. As a condition for this request, following the expiration of the above mentioned extension, Iraq’s status under Chapter VII and its designation as a threat to international peace and security will end, and Iraq will return to the legal and international standing it enjoyed prior to the issuance of U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 661 (August, 1990), thus enhancing the recognition and confirming the full sovereignty of Iraq over its territories, waters, and airspace, and its control over its forces and the administration of its affairs.
Taking into account the principles discussed above, bilateral negotiations between the Republic of Iraq and the United States shall begin as soon as possible, with the aim to achieve, before July 31, 2008, agreements between the two governments with respect to the political, cultural, economic, and security spheres.
|President of the United States of America
George W. Bush
|Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq
Nouri Kamel Al-Maliki