October 16, 2008
The Guardian

Draft Agreement Promises Troop Withdrawal By 2011

by Simon Tisdall

US troops will withdraw from Iraq by December 31 2011 and American and British soldiers deployed there in the interim period could face prosecution in Iraq's courts for serious, premeditated "off-duty" crimes under the terms of a draft status of forces agreement outlined yesterday by officials in Baghdad and Washington.

The draft agreement, which is intended to replace the UN security council mandate that legitimised the US-led invasion in March 2003, and subsequent occupation, follows months of fraught negotiations. It must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament before the end of the year.

Passage is far from guaranteed. Iraq's most influential Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, said last week that any pact must have the support of Iraq's people and political parties before it could be endorsed. Some of the deal's terms may also prove controversial in the US.

But the agreement, if implemented, would mark a milestone in the slow, often painful evolution of independent, Iraqi self-government since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein five years ago. It also represents a climbdown by the Bush administration, which had previously refused to set a deadline or timetable for a troop withdrawal. . . .


Patrick Cockburn, "Revealed: Secret Plan to Keep Iraq Under U.S. Control," Independent, June 5, 2008

Patrick Cockburn, "Oil Giants Return To Iraq," Independent, June 20, 2008

["In 2011, the government at that time will determine whether it needs a new pact or not, and what type of pact will depend on the challenges it faces."--Patrick Cockburn, "Obama's Iraq plans vindicated as US agrees to pull out by 2011," Independent, October 16, 2008]

Hamza Hendawi, "Muqtada al-Sadr urges rejection of US-Iraqi pact," AP News, October 18, 2008

[Maliki never wanted the much-loathed treaty with Washington, and neither did Tehran. To keep his post, however, he had to go on with American requests to ratify the pact before the end of 2008.--Sami Moubayed, "Maliki in damage-control mode," Asia Times, October 18, 2008]

[It has been a short hundred years. That's how long Republican presidential candidate John McCain said that American troops might have to stay in Iraq at the beginning of his campaign, but the deal that Washington concluded with the Iraqi government last week said that they must all be gone by 2011. And they must be off the streets of Iraqi cities by the middle of next year.--Gwynne Dyer, "Iraqi deal with the United States over troops isn't just for show," Salt Lake Tribune, October 22, 2008]

[The final draft, dated Oct. 13, not only imposes unambiguous deadlines for withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by 2011 but makes it extremely unlikely that a U.S. non-combat presence will be allowed to remain in Iraq for training and support purposes beyond the 2011 deadline for withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces.--Gareth Porter, "Final Text of Iraq Pact Reveals a U.S. Debacle," Inter Press Service, October 22, 2008]

["This is an agreement which takes Iraq out of direct occupation and puts it under colonialism with the help of the government of Iraq. It only serves the occupier," said Rubaie, who is also an MP.--Marie Colvin, "< b>Deal on American presence in Iraq close to collapse," Sunday Times, October 26, 2008]

Deborah Haynes, "Iraq demands all US troops out by 2011," Times, October 28, 2008

Ernesto Londono, Mary Beth Sheridan and Karen DeYoung, "Iraq Repeats Insistence on Fixed Withdrawal Date," Washington Post, November 7, 2008

[The draft approved Sunday requires coalition forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by the summer of 2009 and from the country by the end of 2011. An earlier version had language giving some flexibility to that deadline, with both sides discussing timetables and timelines for withdrawal, but the Iraqis managed to have the deadline set in stone, a significant negotiating victory. The United States has around 150,000 troops in Iraq.--Campbell Robertson, " Iraqi Cabinet Approves Security Pact With U.S.," New York Times, November 17, 2008]

[The Bush administration has adopted a much looser interpretation than the Iraqi government of several key provisions of the pending U.S.-Iraq security agreement, U.S. officials said Tuesday just hours before the Iraqi parliament was to hold its historic vote.

These include a provision that bans the launch of attacks on other countries from Iraq, a requirement to notify the Iraqis in advance of U.S. military operations and the question of Iraqi legal jurisdiction over American troops and military contractors.

Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes.--Adam Ashton, Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef, "U.S. staying silent on its view of Iraq pact until after vote," McClatchy Newspapers, November 25, 2008]

[After Inauguration, he should declare the war illegal because it was initiated by President George W. Bush pursuant to an unconstitutional delegation of power by Congress effectuated by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq (AUMFAI). Mr. Obama should announce that all combat operations in Iraq will cease 30 days after Inauguration unless Congress enacts a statute directing him to continue the war.--Bruce Fein, "Obama's overlooked exit strategy," Washington Times, November 25, 2008]

"Secret SOFA provisions exposed,", November 27, 2008

"Iraq parliament backs US pullout," BBC News, November 27, 2008

[On November 27 the Iraqi parliament voted by a large majority in favor of a security agreement with the US under which the 150,000 American troops in Iraq will withdraw from cities, towns and villages by June 30, 2009 and from all of Iraq by December 31, 2011. The Iraqi government will take over military responsibility for the Green Zone in Baghdad, the heart of American power in Iraq, in a few weeks time. Private security companies will lose their legal immunity. US military operations and the arrest of Iraqis will only be carried out with Iraqi consent. There will be no US military bases left behind when the last US troops leave in three years time and the US military is banned in the interim from carrying out attacks on other countries from Iraq.

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed after eight months of rancorous negotiations, is categorical and unconditional.--Patrick Cockburn, "Total Defeat for U.S. in Iraq,", December 11, 2008]

[The NeoCons may have been defeated, but the Great Game is not over.--Robert D. Crane, "Defeat for Neo-Cons in Iraq: Victory for President Obama?," American Muslim, December 11, 2008]

[US military leaders and Pentagon officials have made it clear through public statements and deliberately leaked stories in recent weeks that they plan to violate a central provision of the US-Iraq withdrawal agreement requiring the complete withdrawal of all US combat troops from Iraqi cities by mid-2009 by reclassifying combat troops as support troops.--Gareth Porter, "US Military Defiant on Key Terms of Iraqi Pact,", December 19, 2008]

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, "Gordon Brown has been spinning his own fairy tale of Baghdad," Independent, December 22, 2008]

[In Baghdad, however, there are no plans to close the Camp Victory base complex, consisting of five bases housing more than 20,000 soldiers, many of them combat troops.

. . . Forward Operating Base Falcon, which can hold 5,000 combat troops, will also remain after June 30. It is just within Baghdad's southern city limits.--Rod Nordland, "Exceptions to Iraq Deadline Are Proposed," New York Times, April 27, 2009]

Erik Leaver and Daniel Atzmon, "A Withdrawal in Name Only," Foreign Policy in Focus, June 24, 2009

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