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Puppet gov’t signs SOFA deal, Iraqi people reject it

Published Dec 14, 2008 5:06 PM

The Bush administration has managed to bribe, bully and shove its Status of Forces Agreement down the throats of the Iraqi parliament. About 54 percent of the present members of this puppet body voted to support SOFA on Nov. 27; many members were absent. On Dec. 4 the puppet Iraqi presidential council signed the treaty.

Those who constitute the main part of the armed and unarmed resistance to the U.S. occupation—what the corporate media call the “Sunni resistance”—have made it clear that the Iraqi people will continue to fight against the forces governing Baghdad’s Green Zone.

In addition, the mass organization identified with Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr—which participates in the occupation parliament—not only voted against the treaty but noisily disrupted during the vote. It also brought 20,000 people into the streets to condemn the U.S. occupation and SOFA.

A referendum of all Iraqis must be held by mid-2009 to ratify SOFA. This referendum was a concession to some of the political forces in Iraq that are sensitive to the mass pressure against SOFA.

The SOFA agreement would systemize the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, which up to now has been allowed by a United Nations resolution. SOFA is allegedly aimed at getting U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2011. However, it allows U.S. bases to stay indefinitely, gives U.S. companies the main access to Iraq’s vast deposits of crude oil, and puts U.S. military forces in a position to strike at Iraq’s neighbors, like Syria and Iran, and intimidate the rest of the Middle East and East Africa.

The SOFA agreement, signed by the outgoing George W. Bush gang, doubles the 16-to-18-month limit on the U.S. occupation promised by President-elect Barack Obama during his campaign.

SOFA also leaves about 50,000 Iraqis, many of them from Sunni communities, in prisons that the U.S. would turn over to the puppet Iraqi regime. This regime considers all those prisoners to be enemies. Even people with little or no direct participation in the resistance, arrested in U.S. sweeps, could face death squads.

U.S. had to disguise SOFA

Because there was so much resistance to SOFA within Iraq—even within the puppet parliament—the U.S. was forced to concede some points on paper that restored what looked like a bit of sovereignty to the Iraqis.

As is so often the case in sticky diplomacy, however, some of the more difficult points were presented in language vague enough to allow different interpretations.

U.S. officials admitted Nov. 25 that several of the provisions were vague, including one 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.” (McClatchy, Nov. 26)

The U.S. even withheld the official English translation of the agreement until after the Nov. 27 parliamentary vote. It was an attempt to keep a dispute over the interpretation of SOFA from breaking out in a public debate before the decision.

Iraqis protest

Even the puppet Iraqi parliament could barely get a majority to accept the pact. And the popular resistance to it, expressed through many organizations, continues.

In a statement released Nov. 27, the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance said it “rejects this illegal agreement, as well as all the agreements made in the shadow of the occupation, by the hand of a government that is no more than a creation of the occupier and does not represent the popular will of our patient people.”

In an open letter to the Iraqi people, the Association of Muslim Ulemas of Iraq wrote: “The occupation is going to continue, which is why it is logical and natural to think that the resistance will continue its struggle. ... This means that Iraq will not experience peace, that the bleeding will not stop, that the U.S. will continue bombing and carrying out pillages and arrests, with the excuse that they are fighting people beyond the margins of the law. We will live these next years like past ones.”

Abu Mohamed, political spokesperson for the Jihad and Liberation Front, close to the Ba’ath Party, said, “SOFA is nothing more than a U.S. decision; it is not an accord between two equal parties, between two independent states.” (These three quotes are from iraqsolidaridad.org.)