Iraq Update: Missed Deadlines; Sadrists in the Streets; "Security Agreement" Watered Down
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First there was going to be a status of forces agreement between the US and Iraq, which would be ratified by the Iraqi parliament and would grant the US long-term bases. Private security guards and US troops would be immune from Iraqi law. US commanders would launch operations at will, would decide who a terrorist was, and would arrest and imprison Iraqis at will.
Then al-Maliki went to Iran for consultations. And Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani forbade a giveaway of Iraqi sovereignty. And the Sadrists began demonstrating every Friday. Then the US launched a unilateral operation in al-Maliki's home town and killed his cousin.
So the private contractors won't have legal immunity. And the agreement will be just for a year, not long-term. And it won't be ratified by the Iraqi parliament, so it is just a vague agreement between two executives. It won't stipulate long-term arrangements, but its interpretive context will be one in which the Iraqi leadership has expressed a desire for US troops to leave in 2010. It isn't clear if US troops will have legal immunity or whether they will have full freedom of action or whether they will be able to arrest and incarcerate Iraqis at will.
And now, it won't be signed by the deadline of July 31.
You have to wonder whether the Iraqis and the Americans in the end won't have to go back to the UN for a troop mandate again. The Iraqis want out from under the UN but don't want to recognize that the American presence detracts from their sovereignty. D'oh.
No provincial election law again on Monday. Maybe Tuesday. Maybe not.
The Iraqi legislative calendar is more like "Waiting for Godot" than it is like ... a legislative calendar.
Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan and is author of "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East."