25 November 2008

Underneath the SOFA Cushions

A ruckus broke out in Iraqi Parliament on 19 November when they were debating the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), mostly instigated by the Sadrists (seen in the abayas). The NY Times Baghdad Bureau has some insight on why the debate is so heated:

During one of the debates a Sadrist asked: ‘are there any guarantees that the Americans will not use Iraqi land to attack Islamic and neighboring countries?’ But the agreement clearly says: ‘Iraqi land, sea, and air shall not be used as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries.’

The opponents of the agreement are using this big national issue to blackmail the government, and they are forgetting their duty to their voters.

For example, during the last five years they spent all the time raising their slogans to request the Americans’ withdrawal. They said they would accept any schedule for withdrawal, even if it takes 10 years. Now this agreement will give them guarantees to withdraw completely in the next three years. But they reject it because they will have no excuse left to toy with the government, and with their voters.

Some of them try to use our religion to convince their voters that this agreement will make Iraq submit to the Americans, and they use people’s ignorance about what exactly this agreement includes to make them support their party’s position.
It almost seems like the Sadrists are taking part in the anti-foreigner show for the cameras to appease their Shi'ite voting bloc, and Spencer Ackerman explores how a confirmed withdrawal date for Coalition Forces will further weaken Sadr and his followers political positioning. The SOFA sounds like a good compromise to eventually get our troops home and leave the Iraqi Security Forces in decent shape. But anytime there is political turmoil or elections in Iraq, there seems to be a spate of violence to accompany it. It's politics by other means, and, like Joe, the reason I'm hesitant to support Victory in Iraq day at this time.