View Full Version : US Troops Leaving Iraqi Cities

11-12-2008, 06:31 PM
Ongoing Developments


11-12-2008, 07:31 PM
Seems like the experiment is on to see who is right--those who urge we need to stay to keep things stable and those who say the Iraqis can handle their own internal security now. I hope "Iraqi-ization" does not end up with the same result as the 1973 withdrawal after declaring Vietnamization was a success.

And before anyone flames, I recognize that the US post-withdrawal support package for Viet Nam was not delivered as planned. What makes one think that things will be any different this time around? America once again seems to have a legislative branch apparently greatly at odds with the idea of supporting agreements made by the executive branch.

Ken White
11-12-2008, 07:41 PM
Once?? You're too kind...:wry:

11-12-2008, 07:47 PM
. . . how about "yet again" or "as usually happens"? :eek:

11-12-2008, 09:13 PM
(from AP article)

The U.S. is on track to complete its shift out of all Iraqi cities by June 2009. That is one of the milestones in a political-military campaign plan devised in 2007 by Gen. David Petraeus, when he was the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and his political partner in Baghdad, Ambassador Ryan Crocker. The goal also is in a preliminary security pact with the Iraqi government on the future U.S. military presence.

The timeline here is directly on target with the timeline stated in the leaked draft SOFA (sorta on hold in the adjacent thread). This seems the best confirmation I've seen yet that the SOFA is as reported - a withdrawal agreement (the latest AP story cited in the SOFA thread says that is exactly what it is entitled).

Now, let us all be clear about this combo (military shift of forces and "SOFA"). It is totally an Executive Branch effort of the Bush Administration - Congress has not been consulted in any meaningful way. So, let us not begin writing revisionist history before there is even ink on the agreement.

Note: The president has power to enter into a SOFA, without Congress (that type of agreement is a presidential executive agreement; as opposed to a presidentiial-congressional executive agreement); but only as to matters which are solely within the President's powers as CinC.

Some non-loopy I Law and Con Law types have been kicking this around on the Net. The "SOFA" does raise some valid constitutional issues (the "quote" below is not a direct quote, but my summary of points made in a number of blogs and articles):

1. Iraqi jurisdiction over US troops and contractors. Contrary to the usual SOFA & adverse to troops and contractors. Challenge based on Congress' Regulate the Armed Forces Clause (the basis for the UCMJ).

2. Mutual security provisions. Depends on the provisions' exact language - how automatic is the trigger requiring US to employ armed force in support of Iraq - may be completely adverse to what the best interests of the US are in the future. Challenge based on Congress' War Powers Clause (another issue is whether this is within AUMF).

3. Turnover of US bases & future aid to Iraq. Again depends on provisions' exact language. Challenge based on Congress' Power Over Possessions Clause and Appropriations Clause.

IMO, these are valid issues.

Assuming arguendo that the leaked versions are accurate, the provisions dealing with continued US operations in Iraq (Iraqi approvals, joint US-Iraqi command, etc.) may be nuts from a military standpoint.

My broken crystal ball gave a fleeting vision of we're moving out and Astan here we come - damn thing is broken, so no reliance there.

Here (SWC), let's try not to inflame this as was done after the withdrawal from Vietnam - we don't need that.

11-16-2008, 01:55 AM
Top Iraq official upbeat over US, British pull-out pacts
Denis Hiault – Fri Nov 14, 1:58 pm ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq is likely to approve a military pact with a timetable for the withdrawal of all US troops by 2011 and British troops will leave by the end of next year, Iraq's national security adviser said Friday.

Muwafaq al-Rubaie told AFP in an interview that the controversial Iraq-US security pact could be passed by Iraq's cabinet as early as this weekend.

"I honestly believe we have reached now a very good text... And this text will secure the complete, full, irrevocable sovereignty of Iraq," said Rubaie, who is also Baghdad's chief negotiator on the security pact.

"I believe, I hope, that the council of ministers will pass the new text Sunday and (then) it will be passed on to the parliament."
The draft agreement calls for US troops to pull out of Iraqi cities by June 2009 and from the entire country by the end of 2011.
Rubaie meanwhile said he expected all British troops would be gone by 2010.

"By the end of next year there will be no British troops in Iraq. By the end of 2009," Rubaie said, adding that negotiations between London and Baghdad on the pull-out had begun two weeks ago.

"It will be a much shorter agreement with the UK... It's much shorter and much simpler," Rubaie said, adding that there would be a "dramatic" reduction of British troops by the middle of 2009......


Iraq: Negotiators agree on US security pact draft
Aide to Iraqi PM says Iraq, US negotiators agree on draft of pact; 10 killed in bombing
AP News
Nov 15, 2008 09:32 EST

U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have agreed on a draft of a security pact that would allow American troops to stay in Iraq for three more years after their U.N. mandate expires Dec. 31, a senior aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday.

The aide said the draft could be put to a Cabinet vote in an emergency meeting Sunday or Monday. Transport Minister Amir Abdul-Jabbar said he had been notified by the Cabinet secretariat that a Cabinet meeting was scheduled for Sunday to vote on the agreement. If adopted by the Cabinet, it would then require parliamentary approval. ....
The final step in the process of adopting the agreement would be the ratification of the parliamentary vote by President Jalal Talabani, a Sunni Kurd, and his two vice presidents — Adil Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite, and Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab.

The three met Saturday to review the final version of the agreement, according to Talabani's office.

The United States last week responded to Iraqi demands for changes in the text, which U.S. officials described as final and said it was up to the Iraqis to push the process further.

Al-Hashemi, the Sunni vice president, said Saturday that the United States made "additional modifications" to the agreement in response to a request by al-Maliki, according to Talabani's office. .....


Not to be too ethno-centric, but the Iraqis are more adept at marketplace haggling. I suppose the next round of "modifications" will be to satisfy Iraq's parliament before it acts; and another round before Talabani & the 2 VPs approve it.

Think Ken warned about the Mid-Eastern approach to negotiating somewhere here in the last couple of months.

11-16-2008, 06:56 AM
Iraq Head, Top Cleric Back 2011 Exit by U.S.
Agreement Gives Pact Better Odds of Passing
By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 16, 2008; A01

BAGHDAD, Nov. 15 -- Iraq's prime minister and its most influential Shiite cleric have decided to support a security agreement that would allow U.S. troops to remain in the country until the end of 2011, sharply increasing its chances of passage in the Iraqi parliament, officials said Saturday.
A delegation of Shiite lawmakers and government officials met Saturday with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to review the latest changes to the agreement, and the cleric "gave the Iraqi side the green light to sign it," according to an official in Sistani's office who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Sistani's views carry great weight among members of the Shiite parties that dominate Iraq's government.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made clear his own support for the agreement and has received assurances from nearly all the parties in the cabinet that they would back it, said an adviser, Sami al-Askari.
The deputy parliament speaker, Khalid al-Attiya, said after leading a delegation to the city of Najaf to visit Sistani that "the Americans have responded positively on two important amendments. The first one is the Americans should withdraw from cities and suburbs on June 30, 2009, and the second one is that Americans should leave Iraq in 2011."


11-16-2008, 07:12 PM
New York Times
Iraqi Cabinet Approves Security Pact With U.S.
Published: November 16, 2008

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi cabinet voted overwhelmingly Sunday to approve the security agreement that sets the conditions for the Americans' continued presence in Iraq from Jan. 1 until the end of 2011.

All but one of the 28 cabinet ministers who attended the two-and-a-half-hour session voted for the agreement and sent it to Parliament for consideration.....
The decision of the 37-member cabinet, essentially a microcosm of the Parliament, is expected to be a good indicator of whether the agreement will pass. The assembly has not yet announced the date of its vote, but it is scheduled to go into recess on Nov. 24.

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. ....


11-17-2008, 05:00 PM

Dabbagh: Iraq gov't endorsed two pacts
Sun, 16 Nov 2008 18:32:55 GMT

The Iraqi government says the cabinet has approved two agreements with the United States not just one pact as many people presume.

Government Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh announced on Sunday that the Iraqi ministers, in fact endorsed two agreements with Washington, the Voices of Iraq reported on Sunday.

According to the Iraqi official, one agreement would be related to the withdrawal of US troops from the country and the other one would determine the framework for political, economic and legal cooperation between the two sides.

"The Iraqi cabinet also endorsed the draft agreement between the two countries which would lay the foundation stone for [the two sides'] cooperation and friendship in the fields of politics, diplomacy, culture, health, environmental issues and economy as well as technology, telecommunications and legal issues," he added. ......


11-18-2008, 04:58 AM
Didn't really think that this thing (or things, if there are two agreements) would go through. But, looks like reality may be something akin to what was being said by unnamed sources a couple of weeks ago.

Iraqi parliament debates security pact
Iraqi parliament gears up for vote on US security pact; Iranian official praises Iraqi Cabinet
AP News
Nov 17, 2008 11:39 EST

Iraqi lawmakers Monday began debate over a pact with the United States that will allow U.S. forces to remain for three more years, while an Iranian official close to that country's leadership praised the Iraqi Cabinet for approving the deal.

The comments from Iran's judiciary chief marked the first time that the deal has met with clear-cut approval in neighboring Iran. Meanwhile, Syria, target of a deadly cross-border raid by U.S. forces in recent weeks, criticized the deal as virtual surrender to America.

More than two-thirds of the 275-seat legislature attended Monday's session, raising confidence that parliament will be able to muster a quorum for the Nov. 24 vote. The session ended after the agreement's text was read to lawmakers, the first step to adopt legislation.

Lawmakers are expected to meet again on Tuesday. ...
Senior al-Maliki aides said the deal's chances also were helped by Washington's favorable response to two changes that he requested last week.

One removed ambiguous language that could have allowed U.S. forces not to adhere to a June 30 deadline for their withdrawal from cities to outlying bases, and another that prohibited raiding Iraqi homes during routine security sweeps without a court order. ....


and, another piece in the puzzle falling into place:

Iran's judiciary chief lauds US-Iraqi pact
Associated Press
2008-11-17 09:23 PM

A top Iranian official on Monday lauded the U.S-Iraqi security deal for the first time, saying the Iraqi government acted "very well" in approving the deal that allows American troops to stay in Iraq for three more years.

The remark by Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi was the first sign of approval from Iran of the controversial deal that has long been lambasted by Tehran, where extremists within the hardline camp oppose it and many claim it would turn Iraq into a U.S. colony....
The Web site of Iran's state television on Monday quoted Shahroudi as saying he hoped the U.S. will withdraw troops from Iraq within the time specified in the deal.

"The Iraqi government has done very well regarding this (security pact)," Shahroudi said. "We hope the outcome of (the deal) will be in favor of Islam and Iraqi sovereignty."

Shahroudi is very close to Iran's top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his comments reflect thinking of conservatives within the ruling system, but not all hard-liners or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. ....


Ahmadinejad is not relevant here.

11-19-2008, 08:15 PM
This event may be coincidental; but it may be another little piece in the puzzle.

From The Times
November 19, 2008
Britain re-establishes high-level intelligence links with Syria
Richard Beeston, Catherine Philp and Oliver August

Britain re-established high-level intelligence links with the Syrian authorities as David Miliband made his landmark visit to Damascus yesterday, according to senior Syrian officials.

The move, first raised earlier this year at a meeting in New York between the Foreign Secretary and his Syrian counterpart, Walid Moualem, was a key objective of the Syrian visit. The newly revived intelligence relationship could be hugely beneficial to Britain. Syria is known to have one of the best intelligence-gathering systems in the Middle East, in particular in tracking the movements of Islamic extremists into Iraq and around the region. .....


11-20-2008, 05:48 AM
Iraq's parliament adjourned until tomorrow because of a Sadrist uproar. So ....

US will withdraw troops if Iraq does not sign security deal (1st Lead)
Middle East News
Nov 19, 2008, 11:09 GMT

Baghdad - The US will withdraw its troops from Iraq if the security pact between the two governments is not signed, Iraqi media quoted a senior United States official as saying Wednesday.

'The United States will withdraw its forces from Iraq and refuse to approve an extension of the UN Security Council mandate if the treaty is not signed,' David Satterfield, senior advisor to the US secretary of state and the country's Iraq coordinator, told the semi- official al-Sabah newspaper.

Satterfield met with Iraqi groups opposing the so-called Status of Forces Agreement to try to persuade them to support it, the newspaper reported.....

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/middleeast/news/article_1443803.php/US_will_withdraw_troops_if_Iraq_does_not_sign_secu rity_deal__1st_Lead

11-22-2008, 03:59 AM
Four articles that approach the Iraq SOFA from different angles.

Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Why the U.S. blinked on its troop agreement with Iraq

By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Although the Pentagon officially has welcomed the new accord on a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, senior military officials are privately criticizing President Bush for giving Iraq more control over U.S. military operations for the next three years than the U.S. had ever contemplated.

Officials said U.S. negotiators had failed to understand how the two countries' political timetables would force the U.S. to make major concessions that relinquish much of the control over U.S. forces in Iraq. They said President Bush gave in to Iraqi demands to avoid leaving the decisions to his successor, Barack Obama.


US-Iraq security pact may be in violation, Congress is told
By Jenny Paul
Globe Correspondent / November 20, 2008

WASHINGTON - Passage of the US-Iraq security pact under the terms both countries' leaders have advocated could violate the constitutions of both countries, specialists told a congressional subcommittee yesterday.

They instead pressed for an extension of the United Nations mandate authorizing US troop involvement in Iraq, which expires Dec. 31.

American constitutional law scholar Oona Hathaway said she believes the Constitution requires Congress to also approve the agreement. The Bush administration has labeled the pact a "status of forces agreement," which can be implemented without congressional approval.

But Hathaway said the US-Iraqi pact is more comprehensive than previous agreements because it allows US troops to engage in military operations and specifies timetables for military withdrawal.

"These are unprecedented in a standard status of forces agreement, have never been part of a standard status of forces agreement, and extend in my view far beyond what the president can do without obtaining congressional approval," said Hathaway, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Law.

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2008/11/20/us_iraq_security_pact_may_be_in_violation_congress _is_told/

US contractors lose immunity in Iraq security deal
Matthew Lee, Associated Press Writer – Thu Nov 20, 6:22 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Thousands of contractors, both private Americans and non-Iraqi foreigners working in key roles for the United States in Iraq, will lose immunity and be subject to Iraqi law under new security arrangements, Bush administration officials say.

Pentagon and State Department officials notified companies that provide contract employees, like Blackwater Worldwide, Dyncorp International, Triple Canopy and KBR, of the changes on Thursday as the Iraqi parliament continues contentious debate on a security deal that will govern the presence of American forces in Iraq after January.

That so-called Status of Forces, or SOFA, agreement, which gives the Iraqi government only limited jurisdiction over U.S. troops and Defense Department civilians, excludes Defense Department contractors, two officials said.

The officials spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity after giving the same information to representatives of 172 invited contracting companies in two separate meetings earlier Thursday in Washington.

"Contractors and grantees can no longer expect that they will enjoy the wide range of immunity from Iraqi law that has been in effect since 2003," a State Department official said, reading from the text of a statement presented to the contractors.

Iraq will have "the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over" such workers, who are employed in various support roles for the U.S. military, including food service, transportation and sanitation, they said.

The agreement does not mention State Department contractors, who mainly provide security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq, but their immunity is expected to be revoked by the Iraqi government after the agreement takes effect pending Iraqi parliamentary approval, the officials said.


Iraq parliament engulfed in protests over US pact
In second stormy day in parliament, Iraqi lawmakers go through Iraqi-US security pact
AP News
Nov 20, 2008 06:34 EST

As opposition lawmakers shouted and pounded their desks in protest, Iraq's parliament on Thursday resumed deliberating a proposed security agreement with the United States that would allow American forces to stay there three more years.

The parliament completed a second reading of the proposal, the last step prior to the opening of debate on the security pact ahead of the Nov. 24 vote.

Lawmakers loyal to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr sought to disrupt Thursday's reading as they did the previous day, when they scuffled with security guards after one of them aggressively approached the bench while a lawmaker from the ruling Shiite coalition was reading the text aloud.

On Thursday, the Sadrists attempted to drown out the voice of the lawmaker reading it aloud. Shouting matches later ensued, with Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani barely able to control the chaos in the 275-seat chamber.

But unlike Wednesday, there were no scuffles among lawmakers and orderly proceedings continued.


All of this may dissolve into a farce (more of a farce ?); but, something has to be in place by 31 Dec.

Ken White
11-22-2008, 04:20 AM
...something has to be in place by 31 Dec.Serious question.

11-22-2008, 05:57 AM
Now the serious answer.

Our present legal basis for military action in Iraq is a UN resolution, summarized in the Operational Law Handbook 2007 (p.1-3):

g. UN Security Council Resolution 1511 (2003) authorized “a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq.”

That resolution (which put the US in command) has been renewed, as stated in Pres. Bush's War Powers Act Report of 13 Jun 2008:

The U.N. Security Council authorized a Multinational Force (MNF) in Iraq under unified command in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1511 of October 16, 2003, and reaffirmed its authorization in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546 of June 8, 2004, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1637 of November 8, 2005, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1723 of November 28, 2006, and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1790 of December 18, 2007, set to expire on December 31, 2008.


Without renewal of the UN mandate, or ratification of the SOFA, US forces would have to be confined to bases with limited rights of self-defense.

The legal basis for OIF was different. As summarized in the Operational Law Handbook (http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA469294&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf) (p. 1-3):


a. In the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, U.S. diplomats worked feverishly to obtain UN Security Council support for a new Resolution explicitly authorizing the use of military force. When these diplomatic efforts failed, many pundits opined that, as a result, the U.S. lacked a legitimate basis for using force against Iraq.

The Bush Administration countered that authority existed under previous Security Council resolutions. Looking back to November 1990, the Security Council had passed Resolution 678, which:

Authorize[d] Member States co-operating with the government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 fully implements, as set forth in paragraph 1 above, the above-mentioned resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area;

b. Significantly, UNSCR 678 authorized the use of force not only to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait (implementing Resolution 660), but also “to restore international peace and security in the area.” In an attempt to bring this goal of peace and security in the northern Arabian Gulf region to fruition, the Security Council passed UNSCR 687, which formalized the cease-fire between coalition and Iraqi forces.

As a consequence, UNSCR 687 placed certain requirements on the government of Iraq, including:

(1) Iraq shall unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of: all chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities related thereto; and

(2) Iraq shall unconditionally agree not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapon-usable material or any subsystems or components or any research, development, support or manufacturing facilities related to the above.

c. The U.S. position is that UNSCR 687 never terminated the authorization to use force contained in UNSCR 678. It merely suspended it with a cease-fire, conditioned upon Iraq’s acceptance of and compliance with the terms contained in the document and discussed above. While the Government of Iraq accepted the terms, compliance was never achieved.

The Security Council recognized this situation in November 2002 with the adoption of UNSCR 1441, which provided in part that “Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including Resolution 687 (1991)….”

It was the position of the U.S. Government that, since Iraq remained in material breach of UNSCR 687, the cease-fire contained therein was null and void, and the authorization to use “all necessary means” to return peace and stability to the region (based on UNSCR 678) remained in effect. Under this rationale, a new Security Council resolution again authorizing “all necessary means” was politically advisable, yet legally unnecessary.

However, the U.S. argument is not without its critics.

I am not one of the critics - in short, I argue that Gulf II was simply a legal continuation of Gulf I. Given the military actions and economic sanctions taken between the two "Gulfs", that was also factually true.

But, when we decided to get into "nation building" big time - new constitution, new governmental structure, etc., the justification for our initial military action went by the boards ("Old Iraq", the culprit, ceased to exist).

Hence, the need for UN Res. 1511 and its renewals, which recognize the independent state of Iraq, to justify a continued US military presence.

Ken White
11-22-2008, 01:48 PM
lacking some of the minutia. I understand that the SOFA is not a done deal for several reasons and why that is so even though Sistani yesterday told the Sadrists to chill. I am broadly conversant with the difference between and occupier and a 'guest' in a sovereign nation; with the fact that Al Maliki and the Presidents can approve the, in the absence of a SOFA, certainly desirable UN extension -- and with the fact that all that is very nice and we do really want to be all legal and aboveboard -- well, legal, anyway -- here.

I'm also aware that harsh reality sometimes makes the law not only difficult but impossible to follow... ;)

We'll see.

Thank you for taking the time to answer and for the added detail.

11-22-2008, 08:10 PM
on the sometimes uncertainty of things legal. Posting below some more media stuff - two general background pieces by Reuters; and one WT piece that gave me pause.

I suppose the legal fallback is a renewed UN mandate - last year's was near the last minute (18 Dec 2007). However, this year's situation smells different - e.g., the OP article in this thread suggests that military considerations are more involved here than legal niceties.

As you say, we shall see.

11-22-2008, 08:15 PM
Reuters has these bullet points guides to the Iraq SOFA and the Iraqi approval process.

FACTBOX-Pact on withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq
Reuters North American News Service
Nov 21, 2008 07:15 EST

Nov 21 (Reuters) - The United States and Iraq signed a pact this week which would require U.S. forces to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, more than eight years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Demonstrators protested against it on Friday, ahead of a vote in Iraq's parliament expected next week. Here are the main provisions of the pact. .....


FACTBOX-Iraqi parliament to vote on US troops pact
Reuters North American News Service
Nov 21, 2008 09:53 EST

BAGHDAD, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament is debating a pact that would allow U.S. forces to remain in the country for three years and is expected to vote on it next week. Its passage is seen as likely but not assured. Here are some facts about the vote: .....


Don't shoot the messenger on this one.

Washington Times
EXCLUSIVE: U.S. to begin using search warrants in Iraq
Status-of-forces agreement might require authorization
Richard Tomkins
Friday, November 21, 2008


BAGHDAD | Some U.S. troops in Iraq could begin applying for warrants before detaining terrorist suspects or searching Iraqi homes as soon as Dec. 1 -- a month before they might become required to do so under a new status-of-forces agreement.

Military sources, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic, said at least some units of the 4th Infantry Division in Baghdad would begin obtaining warrants from Iraqi legal authorities next month before making arrests or searching homes for weapons caches and other contraband in noncombat situations.

U.S. military officials would not confirm or deny the report.
"I really don't know how it is going to work out," said Maj. Geoff Greene, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, which operates in east Baghdad. "I don't know how to get them yet," he said of the warrants, adding that he expects to "receive guidance soon."
Maj. Rob McMillan, operations officer with 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, said any early start of the mandated warrant searches would help identify problems in procedures. "This is the Army and we like to practice things," he said.


Much more in the article.

11-26-2008, 06:58 PM
where lives are lost each day, the twists and turns of the Iraqi SOFA would be a humorous farce.

So, we find that the adminisrtration will not release the English version to Congress (and, which is the same thing, to the press). That version is now "sensitive but unclassified", as McClatchy notes here:

Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2008
U.S. staying silent on its view of Iraq pact until after vote
By Adam Ashton, Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — 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. ....
Among the areas of dispute are:

Iraqi legal jurisdiction over U.S. troops or military contractors who kill Iraqis on operations. The agreement calls for Iraq to prosecute U.S. troops according to court procedures that have yet to be worked out. Those negotiations, administration officials have argued, could take three years, by which time the U.S. will have withdrawn from Iraq under the terms of the agreement. In the interim, U.S. troops will remain under the jurisdiction of America's Uniform Code of Military Justice.

A provision that bars the U.S. from launching military operations into neighboring countries from Iraqi territory. Administration officials argue they could circumvent that in some cases, such as pursuing groups that launch strikes on U.S. targets from Syria or Iran, by citing another provision that allows each party to retain the right of self-defense. One official expressed concern that "if Iran gets wind that we think there's a loophole there," Tehran might renew its opposition to the agreement.

A provision that appears to require the U.S. to notify Iraqi officials in advance of any planned military operations and to seek Iraqi approval for them, which some U.S. military officials find especially troubling, although Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command, and Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, all have endorsed it.

"Telling the Iraqis in advance would be an invitation to an ambush," said one U.S. official, who said the Iraqi government and security forces are "thoroughly penetrated by the insurgents, the Iranians, the Sadrists (followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr) and ordinary folks who just sell scraps of intelligence."


But, from the same article, you can find not only a translation of the Arabic version, but the official English version,

McClatchy's Baghdad bureau last week produced an unofficial English translation of the agreement based on the Arabic text. McClatchy on Tuesday also obtained an official English version.

which is here:


Haven't done a word for word, but this looks like the same version as one could find by Googling into a NY Times webpage, which we reported 6 days ago in the adjacent Iraq SOFA Draft thread (post # 8).

Progress on the Iraqi approval process has been deferred until tomorrow, according to this:

Iraq Delays Vote on Security Pact
Published: November 26, 2008

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Parliament has delayed by at least 24 hours a vote on a security agreement with the United States as some Parliamentarians worked to finalize a political reform package to constrain the power of the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that would be voted on at the same time as the agreement....
But the agreement’s final passage through Parliament is now being held up by the negotiations over the political reforms that the political blocs have agreed will accompany the pact. Those discussions mean the final agreement on the security pact may now drag on for days or even weeks, possibly closer to the final end-of-year deadline when the current United Nations resolution governing the foreign military presence expires.
The vote on the security agreement had already been postponed from Monday, and intensive negotiations continued Tuesday and Wednesday as the agreement’s proponents tried to corral enough votes for approval by a significant majority of Parliament.

If the pact fails to win approval, the United States military will have no legal basis to continue operations in Iraq after Dec. 31, when the United Nations resolution governing the foreign military presence ends.


What this boils down to is that the Sunnis want some piece of the pie (or perhaps, a continued US presence to protect them). Since the Sunni VP can veto the agreement even if parliament approves it, some sort of deal seems likely with the Sunnis - if such a deal is even possible.

11-27-2008, 07:48 PM
There are a host of reports on this (with many more to follow). Here are two:

Iraq Approves Long-Debated U.S. Security Pact
By Rania Abouzeid / Baghdad Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday finally got the broad consensus he sought on the Status of Forces Agreement with the U.S. — 149 of the 198 lawmakers present in the 275-member National Assembly gave their support to a deal that allows American forces to remain in Iraq until the end of 2011. But Iraq's legislators also put the prime minister on notice: "We want to tell Maliki that we are building a new democracy, and that we're not ready anymore to let the power be in one man's hands, no matter who he is," said Abdel-Bari al-Zebari, a Kurdish lawmaker.

The wide parliamentary approval for the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) opens the final chapter of U.S military involvement in Iraq, setting a firm deadline for withdrawal. The vote, and the divisive deliberations leading up to it, may also mark the beginning of a new season of political conflict in Baghdad, as politicians seek to redistribute power away from the increasingly autocratic prime minister and towards the president and the parliament.
Maliki's Shi'ite and Kurdish allies backed the pact, which requires that U.S troops redeploy out of Iraqi towns and cities to bases in the countryside by June of next year, and completely withdraw by the end of 2011. The Sunni Tawafuk bloc also gave it the nod, after securing concessions on its demands for an amnesty for detainees in U.S custody, and for the holding of a referendum on the security pact next July. A 'no' vote in that referendum could torpedo the deal, and give Washington one year's notice to leave, effectively bringing forward the U.S withdrawal date to the middle of 2010. ...


Mission Accomplished: Iraq Parliament approves SOFA
November 27, 9:59 AM

Iraq's Parliament, by a vote of 149-49, approved the status of forces agreement (SOFA) dictating the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. The agreement was ratified a week ago by Prime Minister Nouri al-Mailki's cabinet, and is now guaranteed to be approved by Iraq's presidential council.

As noted previously, one of the concessions to resistant Sunni lawmakers was an agreement the pact be voted on in a national referendum occurring no later than July 30, 2009. Should the Iraqi voters reject the SOFA, the United States would be required to have all troops out of Iraq within one year, or July 30, 2010.

In other words, essentially the same timetable that Barack Obama had argued for throughout the presidential election campaign.


References to the 2009 referendum pertain to this:

Iraq to hold referendum on US troops pact
1 day ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Iraq plans to hold a July referendum on a controversial military pact allowing US troops to remain for another three years that parliament is expected to adopt on Thursday in a delayed vote.

"It is not only the Iraqi parliament that has a role in overseeing this agreement , but the Iraqi people," the country's top negotiator Muwafaq al-Rubaie told Al-Arabiya television, adding that the referendum would be on July 30.

Rubaie, who also serves as Iraq's national security advisor, spoke to the Dubai-based network shortly after parliament delayed a vote on the pact until Thursday amid a flurry of last-minute talks.

He later insisted that Washington would have to accept the decision to hold the referendum, telling AFP that "it is an Iraqi issue and the Americans have to understand our requirements." ....


Various other deals were cracked with the Sunnis, who seem reluctantly on board.

Technically, there is one last step in Iraqi ratification - approval by the presidential troika, including the Sunni VP. We'll see what kind of deal (has been) (will be) struck there.

Whether this (is) (will be) "Mission Accomplished" will be something for each person here at SWC to decide for himself or herself.

Happy Turkey Day to all - God with and stay safe.

11-29-2008, 07:04 AM
There is one more step in the SOFA process. Here is its timeline.

Iraq presidency to review US pact in two weeks
Fri Nov 28, 5:10 am ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq's landmark security pact with the United States will be sent to the presidential council for a final review following its ratification by the Iraqi parliament, an official said on Friday.

"Parliament is due to submit the law on Sunday to the presidential council which has 10 days to ratify or reject it, presidential office spokesman Nassir al-Ani said, a day after lawmakers gave their backing to the controversial accord.

"If it has no reaction, it is considered adopted," he said. "If the presidential council rejects it, the pact must go back to parliament." ....


11-29-2008, 06:41 PM
After many, many hours of chai and cigarettes, and perhaps an excellent full course meal, things would to get to a point were everybody would seem to be more or less satisfied. The next day I would bump into one of the participants who advise that just one more small change would be needed to get things truly finalized.... :rolleyes:

The negotiation never ends.

Ken White
11-29-2008, 07:32 PM
in several nations there... :D

12-05-2008, 01:51 AM
Little fuss and muss to this final step in the process.

Presidency Council Ratifies U.S.-Iraq Security Pact
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2008 – The new U.S.-Iraq security pact that was approved by Iraqi lawmakers Nov. 27 was ratified by Iraq’s Presidency Council today, senior U.S. officials said.

The two-part security pact consists of a strategic framework agreement that establishes the foundation of a long-term bilateral relationship between the United States and Iraq, as well as a status-of-forces agreement that stipulates how U.S. forces are affected by Iraqi laws.

Both agreements will take effect Jan. 1, following the exchange of diplomatic notes. The agreements replace a United Nations mandate authorizing the U.S. military presence in Iraq that’s slated to expire Dec. 31.

“We welcome today’s ratification by Iraqi’s Presidency Council of the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement,” U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker and Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said in a joint statement issued today.


12-06-2008, 05:29 AM
New orders for US troops in Iraq after landmark pact
Fri Dec 5, 6:27 am ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) – The top US military commander in Iraq on Friday issued new orders to troops after the Iraqi government approved a landmark military pact that will give it increased control over their operations.

The wide-ranging accord -- which will require all US troops to leave the country by the end of 2011 -- won final approval from Iraq's presidential council on Thursday after nearly a year of intense negotiations.

"US forces will continue to be authorised to engage in combat operations," General Raymond Odierno, the commander of US forces in Iraq, wrote in a letter to the troops.

"However, under the terms of the new agreement, we will coordinate and execute those operations with the approval of the (Iraqi government), and we will conduct all operations by, with, and through the Iraqi security forces."

The pact -- which will take effect when the troops' UN mandate expires at the end of the month -- will grant Iraq veto power over virtually all US operations.

"We will continue to focus on combating Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, but we must do so with respect for the Iraqi constitution and laws," Odierno wrote.

"But there will not be any reduction in our fundamental ability to protect ourselves and the force," he added.


03-27-2009, 11:01 PM
On the annviersary of my old battalion's biggest scrape during March 2003, my former batlion commander reaches out to his former commanders and executive officer, and we catch up on events and careers.

This year, the round of emails caught me in N. Iraq, serving on a endgame deployment of sorts, which stands in stark contrast to the days I remember from the invasion. I thought my reply was worth sharing here as well:

I think you will all enjoy knowing what transpired the other day, just a couple days before the anniversary. The Iraqi brigade that owns the majority of this battlespace asked us to participate in an op involving some 250 jundi, in pursuit of one of the local HVIs for both our TF and the brigade. This same brigade has conducted similar operations recently, and it all indicates a very aggressive, talented, and capable brigadier general. He wants the support of air coverage, and our companies for outer cordons and screen lines, but it is always his men who go through the door when it comes to conducting the actual searches of any dwellings/villages. It's true that they do it "good enough" for Iraqi standards, but they do it fairly well.

In preparation for this particular operation, the BG brought the jundi to our expeditionary airfield in a column of HMMWVs, Ford F250s, 5-ton cargo trucks, and miscellaneous support vehicles. They even had their own refueler and 5-ton wrecker of sorts. We fed the jundi while the officers conducted final planning with staff, and so in my capacity as the XO, I was at the point of friction, trying to corral 200+ Iraqi soldiers into a chow line in the crisp morning air. They looked like the typical rag-tag bunch sporting different uniforms, with some wearing kneepads and headlamps as some sort of fashion accessory, but I took note of a few important things. First, I watched as a junior officer approached the line of men queued to be served. He had a couple NCOs with him, and instead of butting in line, he stood patiently and waited until his men had something to eat before he went through the line.

The other notable thing I saw happened once the company commanders returned to their troops. The BG issued final orders, and started directing the actions of men and machine. I could see an officer issuing orders to his men, who were all kneeling in a school circle in front of him, listening rather intently. This guy was motivated, and even though I couldn't tell what he was saying, his gestures were universal...watch your sector...check geometry of fires...report what you know, then what you think. At the end of his little huddle, he pumped his fist and the men all replied with what could be called their equivalent of oohrah, before they broke formation and mounted their vehicles so that they could hit SP on time.

I think it's safe to say that we have all known some sorrow at the lost of a Marine we knew by name since we crossed the berm at what seems like such a long time ago. Our country's precious treasure poured a lot of blood into the country, and I was able to witness the result of their sacrifice. Our men did not die in vain.

03-27-2009, 11:41 PM

Thanks for those few lines on the Iraqi Army today; all too rarely reported firsthand and currently. Stay safe.


Ken White
03-28-2009, 04:00 AM
Semper Fi!

06-27-2009, 05:15 PM
Here is a link to a story in today's Washington Post.


The story states that a new rule will prohibit US troops from using MRAPs in urban areas during the day. I can't understand why such a rule would be implemented.

Could it be the primary purpose of the rule is to increase the vulnerability of US troops going into the cities in the hope that it will make them reluctant to go? It is as if JAM wrote the rule.

06-27-2009, 06:25 PM
from carl
It is as if JAM wrote the rule

Probably not - although that would be a very direct form of Lawfare (by infiltration and subversion) at the operational level. I suspect that it is another example of political (perhaps some policy) considerations driving the vehicle - although someone's military concept of best practices in transition may also have much to do about it.

This ties in with the thread on Afghanistan ROE Change (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?p=75435#post75435), where Uboat (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=75404&postcount=100) posed an intelligent question:

What I have been wondering is, is this policy really General McChrystal's? Or is something that has been quietly dictated to him by someone higher in the COC? Civilian casualties aren't just a liability to our operations in Afghanistan, they are a political liability to our elected officials. Airstrikes in particular look bad on TV. Perhaps it is my cynicism speaking but this could be an attempt to become a more effective COIN force or it could be political expediency.

I've no answer for that one, or for this one. It may be political, it may be military or it may be both - only the flies on certain walls know (not even The Shadow knows - which dates me to late 40s and early 50s radio).

Tom Odom
06-28-2009, 06:40 AM
Here is a link to a story in today's Washington Post.


The story states that a new rule will prohibit US troops from using MRAPs in urban areas during the day. I can't understand why such a rule would be implemented.

Could it be the primary purpose of the rule is to increase the vulnerability of US troops going into the cities in the hope that it will make them reluctant to go? It is as if JAM wrote the rule.

This is OBO (Overcome by Odierno). see:

Military: No Ban on Use of Mine-Resistant Vehicles in Iraq

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Foreign Service
...Lt. Col. Brian Maka, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said in an e-mail Saturday that the information provided by the officers regarding the ban of MRAPs during daylight hours was "absolutely wrong."

He said the military would "not exclude using the appropriate force protection measures when conducting our operations."

Overall the movement from the cities is going well.


06-28-2009, 07:23 PM
This is OBO (Overcome by Odierno). see:

Overall the movement from the cities is going well.


OBO Operations haha:D Hows things in Tal'afar Tom? Oh and an aviation question for you. How I like it! I wonder how this pull out form cities going to affect the air plan in Iraq? I mean up where you are in MND-N land FOB Daimondback is where most of the rotary and UAV air assetts come from. Q-west maybe?

Tom Odom
06-29-2009, 06:25 AM

I am MND-B POLAD so my haunts are generally Baghdad and environs. I was up at MND-N on a visit to our 3rd BCT.