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Monday, October 27, 2008


Secret SOFA - Did McCain spill the beans?

One reason Iraq is resisting signing a "Status of Forces Agreement" (SOFA) with the U.S. lies in the difference between colonialism and neo-colonialism, as exemplified by this headline: "Maliki sees signing agreement as “political suicide."

But there may be even more reasons that we don't know about. Just as the grossly misnamed "Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba" contains secret provisions, Al-Jazeera reports today on alleged "secret provisions" of the SOFA agreement, which, although obviously unconfirmed, are significant enough that I'll reproduce them here at length:

Although "the secret provisions" would have more adverse consequences for Iraq in terms of the country's sovereignty and independence, a majority of Iraqi lawmakers have been kept entirely unaware of them.

Based on those provisions, the US would be granted the permission to build military bases, camps and prisons inside Iraq. The scope of the immunity from legal prosecution for the US forces--the most controversial provision of SOFA-- would also be extended to include all US security, military and civilian firms as well as the US army's contractors.

Under the terms of SOFA, Iraqi officials would be prohibited from meddling in operations carried out by US forces or limiting their authority. The US would also be allowed to attack any country, which "represents a security threat to Iraq" from the country's soil. [Ed. note: sound familiar?]

After signing the deal, Baghdad would be obliged to ask for Washington's approval before concluding any regional or international agreements with third countries.

According to the Okaz report, SOFA would bring the Iraqi key ministries of defense and interior under US control for 10 years to facilitate "the training of the Iraqi forces."

The Saudi newspaper also claimed that under the secret provisions, no timetable would be set for the withdrawal of US troops form Iraq and any pull-out would depend on several conditions.

The conditions for any US withdrawal include the readiness of Iraqi forces, the success in fighting terrorism, the removal of "the neighboring countries' security threats", national reconciliation and a consensus among all Iraqi political groups on the issue. Washington would be entitled to stay in Iraq, if even one of those conditions were not fulfilled.
John McCain, in a recent interview with Wolf Blitzer, insisted that the SOFA agreement for withdrawal was "conditions-based," despite the publicly-available information that it is not. Is McCain privy to the contents of the secret provisions of the SOFA, and was he inadvertently spilling the beans? And if so, does that provide added credence to this report of the other secret portions of the proposed agreement?

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