Iraqis on Long-term U.S. Bases

The Iraqi leadership is in virtual revolt. Across the political spectrum, negotiations have forced upon the Iraqis "a kind of snap survey or straw poll… on the long-term U.S. presence, and goals for Iraq" from which the Americans are likely to emerge the losers.

According to Reuters, "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."

The administration's man in Baghdad, Prime Minister Maliki, has declared the initial U.S. proposal at a "dead end" and has even begun threatening to ask American forces to leave when their UN mandate expires at year's end. (Though much of this may be bluff on his part, what choice does he have? Given Iraqi attitudes toward being garrisoned forever by the U.S. military, no Iraqi leader could remain in a position of even passing power and agree to such terms. It would be like stamping and sealing your own execution order.)

The Sadrists are in the streets protesting the American presence and their leader has just called for a "new militia offensive" against U.S. forces. The pro-Iranian, but American-backed, Badrists are outraged. ("Is there sovereignty for Iraq -- or isn't there? If it is left to [the Bush administration], they would ask for immunity even for the American dogs.") The Iranians are vehemently voting no. Opinion in the region, whether Shiite or Sunni, seems to be following suit.

The U.S. Congress is up in arms, demanding more information and possibly heading for hearings on the SOFA agreement and the bases. Presidential candidate Barack Obama has insisted that any deal be submitted to Congress, the very thing the Bush administration has organized for more than a year to avoid.

[Excerpt of TomDispatch article by Tom Engelhardt]

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