23 October 2008

Iraq News: Someone Take This SOFA To The Dump

The Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq (SOFA) has been a topic of conversation in the media ever since Ambassador Crocker had to explain to the Iraqis, American politicians, and everyone in between that it would not mean permanent bases. But now this political beast has taken on a life of its own, and implications of coalition troops staying past the U.N. mandate (which expires on Dec. 31) have become increasingly controversial. Spencer Ackerman attempts to dissect the complexities in his latest piece [Washington Independent]:

Yet a wide-ranging group of Iraqis remain dissatisfied with many aspects of the deal, if for different reasons. Some would prefer that the text include a provision allowing a continuing review of security conditions before withdrawal. Others are concerned about the Article 22 provision, that when the deal goes into force “all detainees in U.S. custody shall be released.”

Still others fear that an Article 28 provision does not obligate the U.S. to defend Iraq from external aggression while its troops operate on Iraqi soil. Rahim said these concerns were “not fundamental,” but added, “This is all happening in a climate where there are elections in the U.S. and provincial elections very soon in Iraq. And undoubtedly those two factors complicate the situation.”
Other thoughts on the SOFA includes your standard Ahmadinejad psycho-babble about the U.S. "pillaging" Iraq, and milblogger Greyhawk believes the very existence of this agreement implies that the war is over. Challenges for the next administration in our country and for Iraq's political leadership will be successful transition of security responsibility while navigating the political minefield of having coalition troops on foreign soil. Can't say I would want that job.