THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
June 5, 2008
The Independent (UK)

Revealed: Secret Plan to Keep Iraq Under U.S. Control

Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors

by Patrick Cockburn

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.

But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.

The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal. . . .

Mr Bush is determined to force the Iraqi government to sign the so-called "strategic alliance" without modifications, by the end of next month. . . .

Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is believed to be personally opposed to the terms of the new pact but feels his coalition government cannot stay in power without US backing.

The deal also risks exacerbating the proxy war being fought between Iran and the United States over who should be more influential in Iraq.

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 US is adamantly against the new security agreement being put to a referendum in Iraq, suspecting that it would be voted down. . . .

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Enver Masud, "Iraq: Divide and Rule," The Wisdom Fund, October 10, 2006

Thomas Powers, "Iraq: Will We Ever Get Out?," New York Review of Books, April 30, 2008

[Sources in Iraq's parliament told Press TV on Thursday that Washington has offered three-million dollars in bribe to the lawmakers who sign the "framework accord."

Under the agreement, the US would be allowed to set up at least 13 permanent military bases in Iraq and US citizens would be granted immunity from legal prosecution.--"'US bribing Iraqi MPs to sign deal'," Press TV, May 29, 2008]

[The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy and Iraqi officials said they'd been instructed by American officials not to discuss the details. . . .

"Now Iraq is under Chapter 7 and it does not have full sovereignty so when it makes negotiations with the United States, the results won't be fair," said Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish lawmaker. "When the Americans tell you that we won't remove you from Chapter 7 unless you make this treaty with us, this is a precondition.--Leila Fadel, "Iraqi officials worry about security deal with U.S.," McClatchy Newspapers, May 30, 2008]

[The proposed Iraqi-American agreement would provide a legal framework for U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after Dec. 31, when their U.N. mandate expires. Sadr views the pact as a blow to Iraq's sovereignty. His main Shiite rival, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who heads the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq - an influential Shiite political party that is part of Maliki's ruling coalition - has also denounced the plans. Aides to Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, have also expressed concern.--Sudarsan Raghavan, "Shiites Across Iraq Protest U.S. Presence: Demonstrations Seen as Boost to Sadr," Washington Post, May 31, 2008]

[Other lawmakers said negotiations should not resume until after the expiration of the United Nations resolution on United States troops. Otherwise, they said, Iraq would be in too weak a position to negotiate effectively. . . .

The Americans want to continue to have "a free hand" to arrest Iraqis and carry out military operations, and they want authority for more than 50 long-term military bases, Mr. Adeeb said. . . .

American service members in deployments similar to Iraq are subject only to American military law, the official said, adding that American officials wanted to retain control of Iraqi airspace--Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell, "Growing Opposition to Iraq Security Pact," New York Times, May 31, 2008]

[Under the agreement, Iraqi security institutions such as Defence, Interior and National Security ministries, as well as armament contracts, will be under American supervision for ten years.--Basil Adas, "New agreement lets US strike any country from inside Iraq," gulfnews.com, June 3, 2008]

[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 Wednesday.--"Iraq lawmakers want US forces out as part of deal," Reuters, June 4, 2008]

Ali Allawi, "This raises huge questions over our independence," Independent, June 5, 2008

[The US is holding hostage some $50bn (£25bn) of Iraq's money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent.

US negotiators are using the existence of $20bn in outstanding court judgments against Iraq in the US, to pressure their Iraqi counterparts into accepting the terms of the military deal, . . .

Iraqi officials say that, last year, they wanted to diversify their holdings out of the dollar, as it depreciated, into other assets, such as the euro, more likely to hold their value. This was vetoed by the US Treasury because American officials feared it would show lack of confidence in the dollar.--Patrick Cockburn, "US issues threat to Iraq's $50bn foreign reserves in military deal," Independent, June 6, 2008]

"Drafting of U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement Began Nearly Five Years Ago," National Security Archive, June 13, 2008

[And let's remember one more base, though it's never called that: the massive imperial embassy, perhaps the biggest on the planet, . . . it is essentially a fortified citadel, a base inside the fortified American heart of the Iraq capital. Like the mega-bases, it emits an aura of American, not Iraqi, "sovereignty."--Tom Engelhardt, "Finally, the U.S. Mega-Bases in Iraq Are Under Debate," Tomdispatch.com, June 15, 2008]

[Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP - the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company - along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq's Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq's largest fields--Andrew E. Kramer, "Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back," New York Times, June 19, 2008]

[The report lays out a comprehensive plan for withdrawal of US forces by internationalizing what is currently the US role as the center of political power and humanitarian aid in Iraq, engaging in regional dialogue to stem outside interference in Iraq and convincing neighboring friends and foes alike to take a constructive role in reconstruction and development, and fomenting Iraqi reconciliation with international and regional support.--Ali Gharib, "A Blueprint for Iraq Withdrawal," Inter Press Service, June 26, 2008]

[Three key US-backed measures on oil, provincial elections and the future of US troops are mired in the Iraqi parliament, raising doubts as to whether they can come into effect before George Bush leaves office.--Jonathon Steele, "Iraqi MPs stall deals on Bush benchmarks," Guardian, June 28, 2008]

[US President George W. Bush long has vowed that the United States would leave Iraq if asked by Baghdad's leadership, but now that the request has been made, Bush is in no hurry to exit, analysts say.

Iraqi leaders have pressed for a withdrawal timetable as part of negotiations over the US military role beyond December 31--Laurent Lozano, " Time for US to leave Iraq? Not so fast, say analysts," Agence France Presse, July 13, 2008]

[As is usual with news it does not like, the Bush administration attempted to muddy the waters this weekend regarding the interview of PM Nuri al-Maliki with Der Spiegel in which he expressed approval of Barack Obama's plan to get US troops out of Iraq within 16 months of next January. Al-Maliki told Der Spiegel in response to a question about how long US troops would be in his country, . . .

Ali al-Dabbagh, who is usually described as al-Maliki's spokesman but actually seems to work for the CENTCOM or Pentagon Middle East command, was trotted out to make vague statements about Der Spiegel's having mistranslated or misinterpreted what al-Maliki said. . . .

It turns out that the translator involved works for al-Maliki, not for Der Spiegel, and so presumably knew what the prime minister's words meant in Arabic.--Juan Cole, "Der Spiegel Proves al-Maliki Story Correct," Informed Comment, July 21, 2008]

[Instead of moving toward accommodating the demand of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for a timetable for United States military withdrawal, the George W Bush administration and the US military leadership are continuing to pressure their erstwhile client regime to bow to the US demand for a long-term military presence in the country.--Gareth Porter, "You need Uncle Sam, Iraq told," Asia Times, July 26, 2008]

[ . . . in June 2006 in which al-Maliki circulated a draft policy calling for negotiation of just such a withdrawal timetable and the George W. Bush administration had to intervene to force the prime minister to drop it.--Gareth Porter, "Bush Forced al-Maliki to Back Down on Pullout in 2006," antiwar.com, July 29, 2008]

[Maliki reiterated that he had agreed with the United States that all 145,000 American troops would withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2010. The negotiations are for a Status of Forces Agreement to govern relations between American troops and the Iraqis after the United Nations mandate expires this December.--Sami Moubayed, "Maliki picks a date with destiny," Asia Times, August 28, 2008]

[Maliki declared Aug. 25 that the U.S. had agreed that "no foreign soldiers will be in Iraq after 2011." A Shi'ite legislator and Maliki ally, Ali al-Adeeb, told the Washington Post that only the Iraqi government had the authority under the agreement to decide whether conditions were conducive to a complete withdrawal. He added that the Iraqi government "could ask the Americans to withdraw before 2011 if we wish."--Gareth Porter, "Why Iraqi 'Client' Blocked US Long-Term Presence," antiwar.com, September 2, 2008]

[The dramatic drop in violence in Iraq is due in large part to a secret program the U.S. military has used to kill terrorists, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward.

The program -- which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb -- must remain secret for now or it would "get people killed,"--" Secret killing program is key in Iraq, Woodward says," cnn.com, September 9, 2008]

[Maliki has insisted that all American troops leave by 2011, unless Iraq requests otherwise. Shiite officials give mixed signals on whether they would ask U.S. military advisors to stay.--"Iraq's Nouri Maliki breaking free of U.S.," Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2008]

[In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency, Chalabi, once a Washington favorite, said U.S. officials are trying to inject agreements for secret bases in Iraq as part of the long-term security contract slated to govern U.S.-Iraqi relations when the U.N. mandate there expires at the end of this year.--"Chalabi: U.S. wants secret bases in Iraq," metimes.com, September 19, 2008]

["...not only does Washington typically ignore the traditions of government that already exist in the nations we attempt to reconstruct, but our bureaucrats do not even heed the lessons of Anglo-American political history," Mr. Utley reports in the article. "Instead of devising a workable governing system like our own, Washington installed 'proportional representation.'" Proportional representation (PR) is a system whereby voting is based on party lists of candidates chosen by the party's leadership. Voters do not get to choose individual candidates and may not know anything about many of the names on the lists. . . .

"The constitution may well be more of a prelude to civil war than a step forward," warned another expert in 2005, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Rather than an inclusive document, it is more a recipe for separation based on Shi'ite and Kurdish privilege."--Jon Basil Utley, "Iraq's Dysfunctional Government -- Why It Doesn't Work," cnbc.com, August 24, 2010]

[ . . . planning is underway to turn over to the State Department some of the most prominent symbols of the U.S. role in the war - including several major bases and a significant portion of the Green Zone.

The department would use the bases to house a force of private security contractors and support staff that it expects to triple in size, to between 7,000 and 8,000--Aaron C. Davis, "Contours of a large and lasting American presence in Iraq starting to take shape," Washington Post, August 24, 2010]

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