Agreement Calls for Indefinite Iraq Occupation
By Amy Goodman
11/09/08 "Democracy Now!" --
Amy Goodman: President
Bush announced Tuesday he would withdraw 8,000 troops from Iraq
by February. He also called for a, quote, "quiet surge" in the
number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The President outlined his
plan in a speech at the Naval War College.
President George W. Bush:
[General Petraeus has] just completed a review of the
situation in Iraq, and he and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have
recommended that we move forward with additional force
reductions. And I agree. Over the next several months, we
will bring home about 3,400 combat support forces, including
aviation personnel, explosive ordinance teams, combat and
construction engineers, military police and logistical
support forces. By November, we'll bring home a Marine
battalion that is now serving in Anbar province. And in
February of 2009, another Army combat brigade will come
home. This amounts to about 8,000 additional American troops
returning home without replacement.
presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama, criticized President
Bush for keeping troop levels in Iraq largely unchanged.
Speaking in Ohio on Tuesday, Obama said, "In the absence of the
timetable to remove our combat brigades we will continue to give
Iraq's leaders a blank check instead of pressing them to
reconcile their differences."
But neither Senator Obama nor
President Bush made reference to
leaked draft of an Iraqi-U.S. agreement
that outlines the long-term status
of U.S. forces in Iraq. Iraqi blogger and political analyst Raed
Jarrar has read and translated the leaked document. He says the
agreement doesn't set a deadline for the withdrawal of
non-combat U.S. troops in Iraq. He joins us also from
Welcome, Raed. Talk about what
you have found, what this leaked document says that you've
Raed Jarrar: Well, it's a
long document. It has twenty-seven articles. And most of them
are outrageous. They give the U.S. unprecedented authorities and
rights and immunities. Maybe a major point that is related to
this discussion is the fact that the agreement legitimizes or
legalizes these long-term bases, that indefinite number of U.S.
troops will stay there.
Now, this is a huge issue that
is not being discussed in the U.S. enough. We usually get stuck
in discussing troops level, how many troops are the U.S. going
to keep in Iraq, or what's the mission of these troops. But from
an Iraqi point of view, the majority of Iraqis and the majority
of Iraqi parliamentarians and other representatives of the Iraqi
community are demanding a complete withdrawal that leaves no
permanent bases, no troops and no private contractors. And
unfortunately, from this side, from the U.S. side, both of the
ruling parties and both of the mainstream candidates are
planning to leave permanent bases with troops indefinitely.
AG: And what about the
Iraqi leadership right now? What are they saying?
RJ: Now, the Iraqi
leadership in the executive branch, which is a non-elected
branch of the Iraqi government, are allied with the Bush
administration. They are using the same terminology of the Bush
administration. They're asking for a withdrawal, a partial
withdrawal or withdrawal of what they call "combat troops,"
without really defining that. And they are OK with leaving
permanent bases and U.S. troops in the long run that have
immunity inside and outside the bases.
Now, the Iraqi leadership in the
other branch of the government, the only elected branch, the
parliament, actually is asking for a complete withdrawal. And
these calls do reflect -- the calls for a complete withdrawal do
reflect what the majority of Iraqis want. More than
three-fourths of the Iraqi population are asking the U.S. to
leave completely, not leave, you know, half and keep some tens
of thousands of troops behind to do some extra missions.
AG: And Barack Obama,
does he represent something different, Raed?
RJ: Maybe from a U.S.
point of view, there is a difference in rhetoric. But from an
Iraqi point of view, I think both the candidates, Obama and
McCain, are planning to leave troops in the long run. So from an
Iraqi point of view, I don't think there is a major difference
in the U.S. foreign policy in Iraq between the two candidates,
because both of them are not for ending the intervention in
Iraq. Both of them are for keeping troops in Iraq. They call it
residual force; they call it whatever they want to call it. But
they want to continue interfering in Iraq militarily and
politically in the long run.
And this is something that is
completely rejected by Iraqis. Iraqis see the complete U.S.
withdrawal as the first step towards their national
reconciliation and reconstruction, not the same way that some of
the candidates now are trying to use withdrawal as a tool to
punish Iraqis or, you know, make sure that Iraqis are not being
lazy or sleeping. I mean, it's not that way. Iraqis are fighting
politically and in other ways to end this illegal occupation of
their country. And it's not a gift that -- or not something that
we should be bargaining with them. It's their right to ask to
get their country back. And unless they get their country back
completely, I don't think Iraq will become a stable place.
AG: Nouri al-Maliki, the
Iraqi prime minister, has said all U.S. troops should be out by
the end of 2011. How does that fit into this picture? And what
about the latest deal that has been made between, I think the
report was, Shell, the oil company, and the Iraqi government?
RJ: Again, what Nouri al-Maliki
is saying is that all U.S. combat troops will leave, but there
will be exceptions that will stay in Iraq indefinitely. Now,
this view that Mr. al-Maliki is representing in Iraq is
completely rejected. Iraqis do not support the idea of
half-withdrawal and leaving U.S. troops on the long run. In
fact, the full agreement, that can be viewed on my
organization's website now, on afsc.org, can show you in details
how the U.S. will stay on the long run and who gets to decide
the troops level and the troop tasks. It's neither the Iraqi nor
the U.S. elected officials.
Now, a good thing that you bring
up the issue of the oil deals, because we went through a very
similar discussion to what we're discussing now last year about
the oil law. The Bush administration and al-Maliki's
administration tried to pass an oil law, and then the Iraqi
legislative branch blocked it, the same way that now they are
trying to pass this long-term agreement and the Iraqi parliament
is blocking it. And they ended up losing that battle, because
the majority of Iraqis and the majority of Iraqi
parliamentarians rejected the law … Many people are expecting
that the Iraqi parliament will reject this U.S. long-term
agreement, and maybe they will end up finding other loopholes to
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