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#919008 --- 11/16/08 07:20 AM Now will it pass the Iraqi Parliament?
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The pact calls for the removal of all US forces from Iraqi cities this June, and is not subject to conditions on the ground.

Iraq's Cabinet approves U.S. security pact
Story Highlights
Pact says all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011

Deal approved by Cabinet now goes to Parliament for another vote

Iraqi official: Final changes to draft make pact "satisfactory" for Iraqis

Some officials say they will oppose any deal that compromises Iraq's sovereignty

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Iraqi Cabinet on Sunday approved a security pact that would set the terms for U.S. troops in Iraq.


Negotiators had been working for months on a deal that will set terms for U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

The agreement sets June 30, 2009, as the deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

The date for all troops to leave Iraq will be December 31, 2011, he said.

These dates are "set and fixed" and are "not subject to the circumstances on the ground," he said
.

Twenty-seven of the 40 Cabinet members in attendance voted in favor of the agreement, said Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. One minister abstained.

The Cabinet consists of the prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, and 37 other ministers.

The approved draft will be sent to the 275-seat Parliament later Sunday, where it will be put to another vote. "There is great optimism that they will pass it," said Industry Minister Fawzi Hariri.

Al-Dabbagh said the Parliament speaker and his deputies will decide when the Parliament will vote on the agreement. He said there were "positive attitudes" when the major political blocs met to discuss the draft plan on Saturday.

Zebari said the Parliament will reach a decision before it takes a 15-day recess on November 25.

Earlier, Sami al-Askari, an advisor to the Iraqi prime minister, said the draft included changes that made it "satisfactory" for the Iraqis.

For months, the United States and Iraq have been negotiating a proposed status of forces agreement. It would set the terms for U.S. troops in Iraq after the U.N. mandate on their presence expires at the end of this year.

Many Iraqi officials say they will oppose any deal that hints at compromising the country's sovereignty.

Iraqi cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a statement on his official Web site last week that he will "forbid any stance that targets the sovereignty of Iraq no matter how small it is."[/
b]
In late October, Iraqi officials submitted several amendments to the draft plan to U.S. negotiators in Baghdad.

Zebari said at the time that [b]the proposed changes called for a fixed timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal; a specific number of sites and locations that would be used by the U.S. military; and Iraqi jurisdiction over U.S. forces who commit certain crimes in Iraq

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#919853 --- 11/17/08 08:09 AM Re: Now will it pass the Iraqi Parliament? [Re: Retired Soldier]
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Hardline Iraqi cleric bids to kill US pact in parliament
44 minutes ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were making a bid on Monday to kill a controversial Iraq-US military pact passed by the Iraqi cabinet by trying to block it in parliament.

The Sadrist movement has vigorously opposed the wide-ranging agreement, which would replace a UN mandate that expires at the end of the year and allow US forces to remain in the country until the end of 2011.

Ahmed Masaudi, spokesman for Sadr's 30-member parliamentary bloc, said the movement would submit a bill that would require a two-thirds majority for parliamentary approval, replacing the current requirement of a simple majority.

"(The current law) is contrary to the constitution and to the instructions from the Guide, Sistani, to obtain a national consensus on this agreement," Masaudi said on Sunday, referring to Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani.

The country's most powerful Shiite cleric has not taken a clear position on the agreement other than to say it should respect Iraq's "sovereignty," and has left the decision to approve the deal to elected leaders.

But Sadr and his followers have adamantly opposed concluding any agreement with the US "occupier" and have vowed to hold mass demonstrations to demand the immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces.

"The Sadr movement will use every legal avenue to work to stop this agreement," Masaudi said, adding that the group was determined to form an alliance inside parliament to kill the proposed pact.

The 275-member parliament started its first reading of the proposed military accord on Monday after the deputy speaker said on Sunday the session would began a week-long process of deliberation before a final vote on November 24.

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#920452 --- 11/18/08 07:53 AM Re: Now will it pass the Iraqi Parliament? [Re: Retired Soldier]
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Home / News / World / Middle East
Iraqi, American critics speak up on security pact
Sunnis, Sadrists forge an unlikely association
By Campbell Robertson and Steven Lee Myers
New York Times News Service / November 18, 2008
Email| Print| Single Page| Yahoo! Buzz| ShareThisText size – + BAGHDAD - Iraqi and American critics of a security agreement governing US troops in Iraq voiced their objections yesterday, a day after the Iraqi Cabinet approved the pact and sent it to Parliament for ratification.

In Iraq, opposition has created an unlikely association between the followers of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who rejected the agreement out of hand, and some Sunni politicians, including ones who support the deal but are trying to wrest concessions from the Iraqi government.

Ghufran al-Saadi, a Sadrist lawmaker, said opponents had collected 115 signatures, primarily from Sadr supporters and members of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, demanding that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and several Cabinet members appear in Parliament to answer questions about the agreement, which governs the presence of US troops in Iraq through 2011. Parliament has 275 members.

The Sadrists argued that the ratification process was unconstitutional and threatened to take the issue to federal court. They also said the public reading of the agreement in Parliament yesterday was not legitimate because the legislative session was too noisy for anyone to hear what was being said.

Among the principal Sunni demands are amnesty for many Sunni detainees in US custody and a national referendum on the agreement.

But while the two groups may oppose the pact, leaders of Tawafiq, the largest Sunni bloc in Parliament, said they would be open to supporting it if some of their demands were met.

"We have our own concerns, mainly because of what is not in there," said Ayad al-Sammarai, a Tawafiq leader. "If we get a positive response, then things will change."

A signing ceremony yesterday morning attended by Ryan C. Crocker, the US ambassador, and Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, marked the end of the negotiations, which took almost a year; members of Parliament cannot make further changes to what is now an international agreement.

The vote is scheduled for Monday. If the agreement passes, it will go to the three-member presidency council for approval.

In Washington, officials acknowledged yesterday that the agreement left some contentious issues vaguely worded, including the extent of Iraqi legal jurisdiction over crimes against Iraqi civilians in which US soldiers are accused.

Representative Ike Skelton, Democrat of Missouri and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, warned that the agreement could subject US soldiers to Iraqi prosecution, and complained that parts of the agreement would be left for joint committees to resolve in the future.

That, Skelton said, could set the stage for disputes between Iraq's increasingly assertive government and US diplomats and commanders.

"I do not believe it was wise to push off major decisions about the legal protections US troops would have in such cases or the crimes for which they could be charged," Skelton said. "I am also troubled by vague language in the agreement that will likely cause misunderstandings and conflict between the US and Iraq in the future."

Representative William D. Delahunt, Democrat of Massachusetts, who has challenged the legality of the agreement, has scheduled another hearing this week on the need for ratification by Congress and Iraq's Parliament. Delahunt is chairman of the foreign affairs subcommittee on international organizations, human rights, and oversight.

Dana M. Perino, the White House press secretary, said that the United States had made concessions but that doing so validated Iraq’s progress as a government. "The Iraqis are now able to see a path where they can govern, sustain, and defend themselves," she said.

The concessions included establishing deadlines for withdrawing combat forces from Iraqi cities by June, and from the country by the end of 2011, though officials said the text of the agreement included language that made those dates less than rigid deadlines.

Although some lawmakers expressed concern about the agreement, the response in Washington was largely muted. The document was not widely circulated.

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#921230 --- 11/19/08 07:34 AM Re: Now will it pass the Iraqi Parliament? [Re: Retired Soldier]
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Iraqi SOFA Jurisdiction Over US Soldiers: A Matter of Necessity


JURIST Contributing Editor Haider Ala Hamoudi of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law says that the American concession in the supposedly final version of the Status of Forces Agreement governing US troops in Iraq that would put US soldiers under Iraqi criminal process in limited instances has been made necessary by Iraqi skepticism over American willingness to try its own soldiers and contractors in US civilian and military courts...

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As Iraq continues to struggle with whether or not to accept the United States’ last and supposedly final proposal concerning the presence of American troops on Iraqi soil, a central irony has begun to reveal itself, concerning at least perceived American reluctance to try and convict Americans in the field who may have committed war crimes.

In official circles, United States policy has always been that the very small minority of American soldiers who commit war crimes will be prosecuted for them. While certainly courts martial have taken place for war crimes in Iraq, for the mistreatment at Abu Ghraib, murder and rape in Haditha (which led to a number of life sentences) as well as mass murder in Hamdaniya and Haditha, Iraqis have been understandably skeptical of the United States willingness to prosecute its own citizens for crimes in Iraq. The Abu Ghraib prosecutions focused almost (but not entirely) exclusively on the enlisted and on noncommissioned officers, for example. Often prosecutors seem to have a difficult time proving their cases, as in the Haditha killings, where charges against seven of the eight Marines have been dropped, and the eighth awaits trial for negligent homicide, despite considerable evidence (photographic and eyewitness, both from civilians, including children, and fellow soldiers) of a deliberate massacre of over two dozen Iraqi civilians. The difficulties are compounded in the case of private contractors, where virtually nothing has been seriously investigated. This includes the shooting and killing of a bodyguard in front of numerous eyewitnesses, and any number of incidents involving the shooting deaths of unarmed civilians, in at least one case dozens of them, in crowded, public areas.

More importantly, certain, persistent voices in our political conversation decry virtually any investigation into those activities that appear to be war crimes, describing this as being somehow hostile to the troops and therefore threatening national security. The fear is that excessive prosecution will hinder the troops’ ability to do their jobs effectively and well, because the actions they take in a difficult and deadly combat environment will be judged in hindsight, from those far from the line of fire, to have been criminal in nature.

Certainly the concern of overweening prosecution is a legitimate one, and few doubt that the overwhelming majority of troops do their jobs professionally and well in very difficult conditions. However, a separate issue certainly arises in cases where, as here, the ability and willingness of the United States to prosecute that small minority of soldiers committing war crimes is viewed by the host country, with some degree of justification, with extreme skepticism. When this happens, as it has in Iraq, the host country becomes not only less amenable to the presence of foreign troops on its soil, but also opposes strongly the grant of immunity against prosecution in the host country courts. This threatens American national security, and the interests of American troops, far more than, perhaps, a more robust prosecution in Haditha or Abu Ghraib would have.

Thus, in an attempt to protect troops and serve American national interest, we may end up with something that does less of either. There is that danger in Iraq currently. A source of the impasse in the current negotiations over the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq relates precisely to the question of immunity for US troops. While some, such as the Sadrists, simply oppose the US presence and will oppose the agreement no matter what it does or says, a principal sticking point among the vast majority of the political powers in Iraq relates to the extent of immunity granted to US soldiers from Iraqi prosecution. While American media are quick to deride the quality of justice in Iraqi courts, the other side must be taken into account. No Iraqi I have spoken to within government circles takes seriously the notion that American military courts earnestly investigate and prosecute war crimes.

This is an important issue, for our troops and our national security, as it leads Iraqis to stress ever more forcefully the need to prosecute in domestic tribunals. So far, this has led the United States to make an extraordinary, if largely symbolic, concession; namely, that soldiers who commit war crimes when not on base or on a mission may be subject to Iraqi criminal process. This is symbolic in that almost never is an American soldier off base and off mission in Iraq of all places, but still, it is quite unusual for the US to concede this. As an international lawyer who finds value in so many legal systems around the world, I find much to praise in offering such a concession, but I also wonder if it will be enough. If it is not, the entire existence of the agreement is cast into doubt, hardly a win for the US national security interest. It either makes the presence of US troops illegal, or it continues their presence under Security Council mandate rather than through treaty with a sovereign, democratic nation. Even national interest aside, I wonder whether this state of affairs is really more encouraging to troops in the field. I also wonder whether those so terrified of overweening US court martial investigations are truly satisfied with a compromise that actually grants some level of oversight, however small, to Iraqi courts instead of American military ones. Sometimes, if one wants to take American national security and troop morale seriously, a broader perspective might be necessary.


*I am grateful to U.S. Army Judge Advocate (JAG) Dan E. Stigall for his valuable perspective and insight concerning the current state of military prosecutions for war crimes in Iraq.

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#923838 --- 11/24/08 07:31 AM Re: Now will it pass the Iraqi Parliament? [Re: Retired Soldier]
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#923935 --- 11/24/08 09:59 AM Re: Now will it pass the Iraqi Parliament? [Re: Strawberry Jam]
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#925976 --- 11/26/08 03:52 PM Re: Now will it pass the Iraqi Parliament? [Re: Strawberry Jam]
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US-Iraq agreement needs work
By Ayad Allawi
November 26, 2008
Email| Print| Single Page| Yahoo! Buzz| ShareThisText size – + THE US GOVERNMENT has presented two agreements to the government of Iraq over the last 10 months. Less than a month ago, a semi-final draft of the agreements was presented to all Iraqi parliamentary blocs, and only last week the final version of the draft was passed on to them for discussions.

The first agreement, the Strategic Framework for Iraqi-US Relations, is a straightforward understanding (that may require a minor adjustment to the security-related section) covering security, political, economic, cultural, and diplomatic issues. It is a welcome "strategic" exchange between two sovereign nations that share significant common objectives, such as working together to defeat terror and create a more stable global environment.

The other agreement, the Status of Forces Agreement, has positive elements as well as significant shortcomings. One important downside is the insistence that the agreement be approved (or rejected) without delay. It is expected to be voted on today.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council mandate ends in December. The Iraqi parliament adjourns this week for three weeks, and the US administration is in transition.

Iraq is also entering into a decisive year. Provincial elections will be held in January, and national elections will be held next December. Legislation of a hydrocarbon law is already overdue, and so are constitutional reforms that include the implementation of the divisive Article 140 on disputed territories in some Iraqi provinces, such as the province of Kirkuk.

Another matter of grave concern is the management of the official talks leading to the Status of Forces Agreement, a process that should have been, since its inception, non-exclusive and transparent, and engaged wider political and other relevant circles. Instead, the process was kept secret and excluded some significant parliamentary blocks. An open debate and flow of information would have made the agreement clearer to politicians and the public, and, consequently, less divisive.

There is no question that Iraqis are indebted to the United States for removing Saddam Hussein and his tyrannical regime, although grave mistakes have been committed since that time.

The Status of Forces Agreement, however, requires further discussions and important amendments, as a significant number of Iraqi members of parliament have demanded.

These amendments and clarifications relate to such important issues as protection of Iraq's assets against claims. In addition, US forces, as vaguely stated in the agreement, may intervene in internal problems at the request of the government. Moreover, lumping together outlaws and the remnants of the Saddam regime indicates the persistence of revenge at the expense of reconciliation.

Iraqis believe that it is important for the United States to remain in Iraq under the current UN Security Council mandate for an additional period of time. This will give both sovereign countries time to discuss and approve a satisfactory Status of Forces Agreement in both the Iraqi parliament and the US Congress, similar to other agreements the United States has had - and Iraq may have - with other friendly nations.

As far as the Strategic Framework Agreement, we are ready to support its ratification.

Ayad Allawi is the former prime minister of Iraq.

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