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Actually, McClatchy calls it an "unofficial translation from the Arabic".
There are some bits that are more interesting than others ("Iraqi airspace control and monitoring will be transferred to the Iraqi authorities immediately as this agreement becomes valid") but two points that have gotten the most discussion (and generated the most speculation) among those not involved in the negotiations are troop withdrawal and legal jurisdiction for U.S. troops and civilians. More on that jurisdiction later. From a quick glance: troops off duty and (not or) off post will be subject to Iraqi legal jurisdiction - but troops are never both.)
As for the withdrawal part, here's Article 24:
Article 24One might wonder why this "All U.S. combat forces are to withdraw from Iraqi cities, villages, and towns not later than the date that Iraqi forces assume complete responsibility of security in any Iraqi province." Is immediately followed by this: "The withdrawal of U.S. forces from the above-mentioned places is on a date no later than the 30 June 2009." If the second phrase is taken at face value, the first is practically moot.
Withdrawal of American Forces from Iraq
Admitting to the performance of Iraqi forces, their increased capabilities and assuming full responsibility for security and based upon the strong relationship between the two parties the two parties agreed to the following:
All U.S. forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, water and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011.
All U.S. combat forces are to withdraw from Iraqi cities, villages, and towns not later than the date that Iraqi forces assume complete responsibility of security in any Iraqi province. The withdrawal of U.S. forces from the above-mentioned places is on a date no later than the 30 June 2009. The withdrawing U.S. forces mentioned in item (2) above are to gather in the installations and areas agreed upon that are located outside of cities, villages and towns that will be determined by the Joint Military Operation Coordinating Committee (JMOCC) before the date determined in item (2) above.
The United States admits to the sovereign right of the Iraqi government to demand the departure of the U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime. The Iraqi government admits to the sovereign right of the United States to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime.
The two parties agree to put a mechanism and preparations for reducing the number of U.S. forces during the appointed period. And they are to agree on the locations where the forces are to settle.
We'll see soon enough, I'm sure. What's certain is that President Obama's "16 months" must begin no later than two years from next September. In the meantime, let's look at Article 27:
Article 27Which (among other things) basically means that if the Iraqis ask and we agree, we can leave troops in (or move troops into) Iraq for purposes of training Iraqi forces, fighting terrorism and outlaw groups, or for (internal or external) threat deterrence - to include threats to political stability, Iraq's democratic federal constitutional system, elected establishment, etc. etc.
Deterrence Security Dangers
In order to support the security and stability in Iraq and to contribute to establishing international peace and stability, both parties seek actively to strengthen the political and military abilities for the Republic of Iraq and to enable Iraq to deter the dangers that threaten its sovereignty and political independence, the unity of its land and its democratic federal constitutional system, they agreed upon the following:
When any external or internal danger emerges against Iraq or an aggression upon it violates its sovereignty, its political stability, the unity of its land, water, and airspace or threatens its democratic system or its elected establishments and according to the request of the Iraqi government, the two parties will immediately start strategic talks and according to what they will agree on between them the United States will undertakes the appropriate measures that include diplomatic, economic, military or any other measure required to deter this threat.
Both parties agree to continue their strong cooperation to strengthen and maintain the military, security and democratic political institutions in Iraq in accordance with what they agree upon, cooperation, supplying and arming the Iraqi Security Forces for the prevention of local and international terrorism and outlaw groups, upon the request of the Iraqi government.
Assuming that McClatchy has provided an accurate translation (and honestly, the last paragraph quoted above makes no sense to me whatsoever) of the final version of the SOFA, and that it is approved by Iraq's parliament (perhaps today), then McClatchy's own analysis of the agreement is flawed:
President-elect Barack Obama's campaign plan to leave a residual force of some 30,000 American troops in Iraq would be impossible under the pact.But kudos to them for acknowledging that often-"overlooked" minor detail of his plan.
And speaking of overlooked, don't overlook this: "The United States admits to the sovereign right of the Iraqi government to demand the departure of the U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime. The Iraqi government admits to the sovereign right of the United States to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime."
From a quick glance: troops off duty and (not or) off post will be subject to Iraqi legal jurisdiction - but troops are never both.)
That's the ones behaving themselves, that is. As the place becomes more and more peaceful, there will be more and more troops skylarking out in town to find alcohol and women. And that will mean trouble. The Iraqis justifiably want to have anyone misbehaving under those conditions to be subject to their jurisdiction.Posted by Skyler at November 26, 2008 01:43 PM
Well everything as always depends upon the 'conditions' at the time, but is this not precisely the type of agreement that we all really wanted from day 1 ? Two sovereign Nations deciding upon the legal conditions for interaction? And an agreement negotiated from a position of increasing stability in Iraq ?
The US does not really need and should not really want a large permanent base for troops in Iraq. That would lead to the same or greater problems as the bases in Saudi Arabia caused. A small base in Kurdistan might be useful if it could be arranged without a lot of bother. But it's hardly critical. If Iraq progresses as we all hope then the bases there will be increasingly redundant, and if it blows up now, I really think that there is nothing much we could do to prevent it anyway. The choices now are largely going to be made by Iraqis. Which again is precisely what we really wanted in the first place. What everyone now hopes is that they are 'good' choices.
What's not to like here, apart from a few quibbles here and there ?Posted by dougf at November 26, 2008 03:00 PM
Funny, I just made a comment to this very point on the Gates post. Yup, we've pretty much set the trajectory as best we can; little left now but to point, or perhaps nudge (gently, gently.)
"As the place becomes more and more peaceful, there will be more and more troops skylarking out in town to find alcohol..."
...which will be something of a fruitless search in a predominately-Muslim country. 8)
"If the [June 2009] phrase is taken at face value, [December 2011] is practically moot."
Well, what it means is that in June 2009, American forces will withdraw to bases in relatively-remote locations rather than being deployed right in the middle of town. And at the end of 2011, they stay in-country at the sufferance of the Iraqi government, and it's officially stated that they're present at that government's behest (rather than being an occupying army.) Also, off-base operations will happen when the Iraqi government asks, rather than when the American commanders feel it's needed. Basically, in 2011 Iraq will get the same status as any other overseas-deployment location.Posted by DensityDuck at November 26, 2008 03:39 PM
I think you're right, but suppose one or two provinces aren't ready by June? I hope that's not the case', but I see where some interpretive kabuki could ensue...
Iraq the model has details. I provide a link.Posted by M. Simon at November 26, 2008 07:55 PM
...which will be something of a fruitless search in a predominately-Muslim country. 8)
Many muslim countries have alcohol. For example, Azerbaijan is very proud of its wine industry. In particular, Iraqis are long known to enjoy beer, wine and spirits of all kinds.
Where there is alcohol and where there are women, men will seek them out at great risk. As Iraq gets more and more peaceful, that level of risk becomes more and more acceptable to many men.Posted by Skyler at November 26, 2008 09:04 PM
I've done a couple of stories here over the past year about liquor stores re-opening in Baghdad. It's one of those "signs of progress"...Posted by Greyhawk at November 27, 2008 11:45 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(8) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)