Iraq Still Unsure Of Status Of Forces Agreement With U.S.

Iraq Still Unsure Of Status Of Forces Agreement With U.S.
October 24th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Iraq Still Unsure Of Status Of Forces Agreement With U.S.

Iraq Still Unsure Of Status Of Forces Agreement With U.S.
October 23, 2008

Special Report With Brit Hume (FNC), 6:00 PM
BRIT HUME: Iraqi officials continue to mull over a new proposal to keep U.S. forces in their country after the end of the year. Not everyone in Iraq’s leadership is happy with the new status of forces agreement, as it’s called, and some folks here in Washington are not thrilled that the Iraqis are taking their time. National security correspondent Jennifer Griffin tells us what’s in the fine print.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN: Fox News has obtained the final English version of the draft agreement that would allow U.S. forces to remain in Iraq after December 31st. It’s an agreement hammered out with Iraqi negotiators over seven months in which the U.S. side has made major compromises on a date of exit as well as immunity for troops and contractors.
The 17-page document states, quote: “the U.S. forces shall withdraw from Iraqi territories no later than December 31st, 2011.” It is not conditions-based as U.S. commanders had wanted. It is based on Iraqi perceptions of whether they need to ask U.S. forces for help. And those 165,000 U.S. contractors? Nine thousand security contractors working for Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and others will not be protected or given immunity. They will be subject to Iraqi law. “Iraq has the primary legal jurisdiction over contractors with the U.S. and their employees.”
David Tafuri served in Iraq as a lawyer for the State Department covering rule of law issues until last year.
DAVID TAFURI [Fmr. State Dept Legal Advisor]: This is an enormous change for contractors. Currently contractors also have absolute immunity from Iraqi laws. Under this agreement, they are subject to all Iraqi laws and can be prosecuted in Iraqi court.
GRIFFIN: In terms of operations and detentions, “U.S. forces are not permitted to search houses and other properties without a court warrant from an Iraqi judge.” “When this agreement goes into effect all detainees in U.S. custody shall be released in a safe and organized fashion,” all 17,000 of them, unless the Iraqis ask they continue being held. Five thousand are considered dangerous.
TAFURI: Under this agreement, U.S. forces will not be able to detain Iraqis for longer than 24 hours.
GRIFFIN: Iraqi leaders say they want to make changes to the draft, but White House Press Secretary Dana Perino says the negotiations are almost closed, if not all the way closed.
At the Pentagon, Jennifer Griffin, Fox News.
The Situation Room (CNN), 5:00 PM
WOLF BLITZER: The U.S. military today gave Iraq’s government security control over Babil Province and the former hotbed of violence known as the “Triangle of Death.” But disagreements over a new status of forces agreement could soon force the U.S. to turn over all security activity to Iraq.
Our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee, has been looking at this part of the story. Could cause some immediate problems for the next president whoever that might be.
ZAIN VERJEE: Yes, exactly, Wolf. It really could. The U.S. and Iraq, essentially, are on a collision course with both playing a high stakes game of chicken. The outcome is going to affect the next president.
Like these effigies of President Bush and his secretary of state in Baghdad, the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq on the future of American forces could go up in flames. Secretary Rice has lobbied hard, but Iraqi leaders won’t sign a draft deal. The U.S. is getting tough.
ROBERT WOOD [U.S. State Department Spokesman]: We’re running out of time and that’s why we said the door is closing.
GEOFF MORRELL [Pentagon Press Secretary]: This is a deal that is the product of seven months of intense negotiations.
DANA PERINO [White House Press Secretary]: It’d be a very high bar to see any changes to the agreement.
VERJEE: Among the controversial parts of the deal, jurisdiction over U.S. troops and U.S. troop withdrawal.
This Iraq crisis could slip into the post-election transition or fall into the lap of the next president.
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warns without an extension U.S. troops would withdraw immediately to bases: no security operations, no logistics, no training, no support for Iraqis on the borders, no nothing. And no protection for high-ranking Iraqi officials like Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Militant forces beaten back in Iraq could reemerge.
To further complicate the standoff, the leader of Iran is criticizing the deal. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the U.S. just wants to weaken Iraq. Secretary Rice really pushed back today saying, I think the Iraqis can defend their interests without the Iranians. Thank you very much.
BLITZER: So what options, Zain, does the United States have right now?
VERJEE: Well, they’re running out of options especially as the clock is ticking. One of them is to go back to the United Nations and get a legal mandate to have those troops in Iraq. And that expires on the 31st of December. If that fails, then the U.S. may just be forced to make concessions to the Iraqis that right now they don’t want to make.
BLITZER: I know, a lot of sensitive issues in that draft agreement, as well, including jurisdiction of those U.S. troops who will remain in Iraq and defense contractors, as well. Zain, thanks very much.

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