Patrick Cockburn claims in The Independent June 5 that 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.” Speaking to several anonymous Baghdad politicians who oppose the deal, he writes: “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 anonymous politicians call the deal “a terrible breach of our sovereignty,” and dismiss US denials that it seeks permanent bases in Iraq as “just a tactical subterfuge.”
America currently has 151,000 troops in Iraq and, even after projected withdrawals next month, troop levels will stand at more than 142,000 – 10 000 more than when the military “surge” began in January 2007. Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.
However, Reuters reports June 4:
A majority of the Iraqi parliament has written to Congress rejecting a long-term security deal with Washington if it is not linked to a requirement that U.S. forces leave, a U.S. lawmaker said on Wednesday.
Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat and Iraq war opponent, released excerpts from a letter he was handed by Iraqi parliamentarians laying down conditions for the security pact that the Bush administration seeks with Iraq.
“The majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq,” the letter to the leaders of Congress said.
The signatures represented just over half the membership of Iraq’s parliament, said Delahunt, a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee chairman.
Two Iraqi lawmakers whose parties were listed as signatories testified to Delahunt’s panel on Wednesday that U.S. troops should leave Iraq, and that talks on the long-term security pact should be postponed until after they are gone.
“What are the threats that require U.S. forces to be there?” asked Nadeem Al-Jaberi, a co-founder of the al-Fadhila Shi’ite political party, speaking through a translator.
“I would like to inform you, there are no threats on Iraq. We are capable of solving our own problems,” he declared. He favored a quick pullout of U.S. forces…
A Sunni Iraqi lawmaker, Khalaf Al-Ulayyan, founder of the National Dialogue Council, said bilateral talks on a long-term security deal should be shelved until American troops leave — and until there is a new government in Washington.
“We prefer to delay until there is a new administration in the United States,” he said…
A senior U.S. official said in Baghdad earlier this week that the United States still hopes to reach a new security agreement with Iraq by July, even though officials in the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki say negotiations are at an early stage.