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Thread: Iraq SOFA Draft ?

  1. #1
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    Default Iraq SOFA Draft ?

    The proposed US-Iraq SOFA has been the topic of numerous news articles over the past 10 days. Many of those articles reference excerpts from a purported final draft of the agreement (in the form of a presidential executive agreement under US Con Law). That you might know the source of the purported excerpts, it is referenced below.

    Caution: The text may or may not reflect the official text - Please regard it as no more than a hypothetical example of a possible SOFA until an official English text is released.

    Full Text and Some Caveats

    The full text of a purported 13 Aug 2008 final draft of the US-Iraq SOFA is here.

    The translation uses language (in various places) which will not be the language used in the official English text (if and when it is released) - it's not what a lawyer versed in SOFA law would use. Beyond that procedural caveat, there are a number of substantive caveats.


    1. There is NO official evidence that this English translated text is from the official Arabic version, which has not been released.

    2. The official English version also has not been released.

    3. While it seems unlikely that the final draft will be substantially modified by the US (see next), the draft might be rejected by the Iraqi government.

    Washington warns Iraq to accept security deal
    Bush administration urging Iraqis to drop objections to security deal, warns of consequences
    AP News
    Oct 22, 2008 14:32 EST
    The Bush administration on Wednesday warned of "real consequences" for Iraq if it rejects a newly negotiated security pact.....

    Provenance of Translation

    The translated text purports to be a translation into English from Arabic by Raed Jarrar. His brief explanation of its "chain of custody" is as follows:

    Monday, October 20, 2008
    U.S. Iraqi Agreemnt: Final Draft leaked
    The final draft of the U.S. Iraqi agreement was sent to my ["what" ?] from Baghdad a couple of days ago. I just finished translating it into english.....

    Mr. Jarrar's Wiki bio (currently the Iraq consultant for the American Friends Service Committee) is here.

    The text appears at the website of the American Friends Service Committee, which explains it as follows:

    Wage Peace Campaign
    Latest Status of Forces Agreement --
    AFSC English Translation

    Read the first public English translation of the latest draft agreement between the U.S and Iraqi administrations, an agreement designed to permit U.S. troops to remain in Iraq once the United Nations mandate ends this year and may begin the process of establishing permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.

    A major Arabic-language newspaper, Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed, published the Arabic version on Monday, October 20. ....
    .... [intervening paragraphs are political commentary] ....
    In September, AFSC posted the translation of the draft agreement, in addition to the Arabic-language original.

    Presumably, the reference to a September translation is to an earlier draft - the url link did not work for me.


    No substantive comments at present - although the purported draft has some interesting provisions. It is an odd SOFA - it looks more like a 3-year lease of a business condominium.
    Last edited by jmm99; 10-23-2008 at 05:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Amb. Helmen on US Iraq SOFA prospects.

    Gerald B. Helman (United States Ambassador to the European Office of the United Nations from 1979 through 1981) has written a commertary on the prospects for the US-Iraq SOFA, as well as what the next administration might do with Iraq.

    His comment is based neither on the still-classified official draft nor the rogue version mentioned above.

    Helman: US has all but Committed to Leaving Iraq
    Ambassador Gerald B. Helman writes:

    Absent the unexpected, it is unlikely that a security agreement in the form of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the US will be in place before our Presidential elections and almost as unlikely before the end of the year when the present UN Security Council mandate runs out. ...

  3. #3
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    Default 100 amendments - the saga continues

    The wisdom of waiting for release of an official final version of the Iraq SOFA, before commenting, is reinforced by this WSJ article.

    NOVEMBER 7, 2008
    U.S. Approves Most Iraqi Revisions to Security Pact

    BAGHDAD -- The U.S. notified Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki it has accepted many of the changes proposed last week by the Iraqi cabinet in a draft security agreement between the two countries.

    Because of the largely positive response from the U.S. on Thursday, Iraqi officials say they are warming to a resolution. But the two sides have appeared close to a deal before, only to face further setbacks.

    Iraq's cabinet plans to meet Sunday to discuss the pact, which is needed to replace a United Nations mandate that expires at the end of this year. If Iraqi ministers approve the deal, parliament could take it up next week.
    The Iraqi side had requested more than 100 changes, most of them minor and cosmetic in nature. ....

    What seems "minor and cosmetic" to one person, may not be so "minor and cosmetic" when it comes time to apply the agreement to actual cases.

    Anyway, this one still has ways to go (or better, perhaps - more haggling over the rug you want to buy or sell), before its substance can be addressed.

  4. #4
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Jul 2006


    Is it just me or is this the time tables that we said that we were not going to do? We said that we would stay until the situation on the ground dictated that it was time to go and now we are about to sign a document that guarantees that we will be out by 2011 and will likely be ineffective prior to that due to the constraints placed on us.

    SFC W

  5. #5
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    Default Caution; but in a word,

    from Uboat509
    ... a document that guarantees that we will be out by 2011 and will likely be ineffective prior to that due to the constraints placed on us.

    The caution is that we are dealing with leaked classified information (the DC and Baghdad sieves). The dropdead dates have been consistent in the many media versions. 30 Jun 2009 might be the real dropdead date - assuming that is true, etc. - requirement of retreat to bases, joint operational command, etc.

    Probably best to keep powder dry until we learn something definitive.

  6. #6
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    Default Latest Leak to AP

    Seems that the term classified no longer has much meaning. In any event, this SOFA version (purportedly the English version) may have more credibility than what the media has been reporting.

    New Iraq security pact would rule out US troop extension past 2011, ban cross-border attacks
    AP News
    Nov 10, 2008 08:46 EST

    The proposed U.S.-Iraqi security pact removes language authorizing Iraq to ask U.S. soldiers to stay beyond 2011 and bans cross-border attacks from Iraqi soil, according to a copy of the draft obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

    The latest draft, sent Thursday to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, also strengthens language regarding Iraqi sovereignty but does not appear to make significant changes in the limited legal authority granted to Iraq to prosecute U.S. soldiers for major crimes committed off post and off duty. ...

    While the AP did not publish the full text, it did quote some provisions:

    The new draft states that U.S. troops must be out of Iraqi cities by June 30 and leave the country entirely by Dec. 31, 2011. The previous draft authorized the Iraqi government to ask U.S. troops to stay beyond that for training and other assistance.

    But the current draft states simply that "United States forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than Dec. 31, 2011."
    President-elect Barack Obama pledged during the campaign to bring all combat troops home within 16 months of his inauguration Jan. 20. An Iraqi official said Obama had been briefed on the current draft and raised no objection.
    The draft agreement 24 pages in the English version also states that "Iraqi land, sea and air shall not be used as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries."
    As a further assurance, the deal is now officially an agreement "on the withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq" and the "organization of their activities during their temporary presence."
    If accurate, the last sentence says it all. GEN McCaffrey's report (adjacent thread by h2harris) should be read in light of what may be an accurate version of the draft SOFA - which is sounding much less than a SOFA.

    According to my clock, we are now into the 11th day of the 11th month. So, it is time to remember all of our veterans who have predeceased us, including my dad - and his foxhole partner who was killed that day 18 Oct 1944. PVT Miller, you may have few or none left to remember you, but we do - both you and the Graywolf.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2007
    Sierra Vista, AZ

    Default SOFA small print

    Reading the LA Times Guide to the US-Iraq SOFA on today's roundup, and noticed the line below:,4698080.story

    "...and Iraq won the right to inspect incoming packages."

    Will this apply to all Soldier mail? If so, I am sure that Soldiers will be glad that their care packages and personal letters will be "inspected" by the Iraqi government, and that no items will disappear during that inspection.

  8. #8
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    May 2008

    Default Iraq SOFA full as-signed text

    The Iraq SOFA was signed by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on Monday. The full text published by the NY Times is here.

    Substantive comments will follow ratification by Iraq's parliament & its troika presidency (if that happens). See also adjacent thread "US Troops Leaving" for news articles on that process.

  9. #9
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    May 2008

    Default MPS mail provision - SOFA

    This may clear up the question.

    Article 19
    Support Activities Services
    5. The mail sent through the military post service shall be certified by United States Forces authorities and shall be exempt from inspection, search, and seizure by Iraqi authorities, except for non-official mail that may be subject to electronic observation. Questions arising in the course of implementation of this paragraph shall be addressed by the concerned Joint Sub-Committee and resolved by mutual agreement. The concerned Joint Sub-Committee shall periodically inspect the mechanisms by which the United States Forces authorities certify military mail.
    There are sweeping provisions covering "import-export" packages sent outside of the MPS - some applicable to personal items.

    Article 15
    Import and Export
    2. Members of the United States Forces and of the civilian component may import into Iraq, re-export, and use personal effect materials and equipment for consumption or personal use. The import into, re-export from, transfer from, and use of such imported items in Iraq shall not be subjected to licenses, other restrictions, taxes, custom duties, or any other charges imposed in Iraq, as defined in Article 2, paragraph 10. The imported quantities shall be reasonable and proportionate to personal use. United States Forces authorities will take measures to ensure that no items or material of cultural or historic significance to Iraq are being exported.

    3. Any inspections of materials pursuant to paragraph 2 by Iraqi authorities must be done urgently in an agreed upon place and according to procedures established by the Joint Committee.
    So, the precise scope of inspections is left to future regulations to be agreed.

  10. #10
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    May 2007

    Default Having been a few other places where there were SOFA

    in force, that seems pretty typical to me. There was one country where we had agreed to the individual service member paying all local customs and excise taxes. Ordering parts not obtainable locally for a car could cost one about four times the cost and shipping fees for the part in taxes. In another, transferring many items to a local national would get you local jail time -- and the jails were not nice...

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