Steve Benen / The Carpetbagger Report & The White House – 2007-11-29 22:55:57
Maliki Government Paves the Way for
Permanent US Bases in Iraq
Steve Benen / The Carpetbagger Report
(November 26, 2007) — Way back in February 2006, Tom Engelhardt noted that the “debate” over permanent US bases in Iraq was practically non-existent. After a search of the LexisNexis database, he explained, “American reporters adhere to a simple rule: The words ‘permanent,’ ‘bases,’ and ‘Iraq’ should never be placed in the same sentence, not even in the same paragraph; in fact, not even in the same news report.”
It wasn’t too big a mystery — talk of permanent bases was considered impolite for the political mainstream. It was a subject best relegated to blogs and talk radio. When congressional Dems started taking the matter seriously, congressional Republicans quickly shut down any policy proposals that might limit a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq.
With that in mind, today’s news is not at all encouraging.
Iraq’s government, seeking protection against foreign threats and internal coups, will offer the U.S. a long-term troop presence in Iraq in return for U.S. security guarantees as part of a strategic partnership, two Iraqi officials said Monday.
The proposal, described to The Associated Press by two senior Iraqi officials familiar with the issue, is one of the first indications that the United States and Iraq are beginning to explore what their relationship might look like once the U.S. significantly draws down its troop presence.
As Spencer Ackerman explained, “Make no mistake: this is Nouri al-Maliki offering the U.S. a permanent presence in return for guaranteeing the security of his government…. In exchange for a platform for the indefinite projection of American power throughout the Middle East, the Bush Administration probably considers protection for Maliki and his coterie to be a small price to pay.”
In the AP report, Bush administration officials are downplaying the significance of these developments….
When asked about the plan, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo noted that Iraqi officials had expressed a desire for a strategic partnership with the U.S. in a political declaration in August and an end to the U.N.-mandated force.
“Thereafter then, the question becomes one of bilateral relationships between Iraq and the countries of the multinational forces,” she said. “At that point we need to be considering long-term bilateral relationships and we’re following the Iraqi thinking on this one and we agree with their thinking on this and we’ll be looking at setting up a long-term partnership with different aspects to it, political, economic, security and so forth.”
She said any detailed discussion of bases and investment preferences was “way, way, way ahead of where we are at the moment.”
…but Iraqi officials are moving forward apace.
The Iraqi officials said that under the proposed formula, Iraq would get full responsibility for internal security and U.S. troops would relocate to bases outside the cities. Iraqi officials foresee a long-term presence of about 50,000 U.S. troops, down from the current figure of more than 160,000.
Haidar al-Abadi, a senior Dawa member of al-Maliki’s Dawa party, told Alhurra television that the prime minister would write parliament in the next few days to tell lawmakers that his government would seek the renewal of the U.N. mandate for “one last time.”
What’s more, Ackerman also noted that the joint declaration of “principles” for “friendship and cooperation,” endorsed this morning by Bush and Maliki, includes this provision on the future U.S.-Iraq security ties:
“To support the Iraqi government in training, equipping, and arming the Iraqi Security Forces so they can provide security and stability to all Iraqis; support the Iraqi government in contributing to the international fight against terrorism by confronting terrorists such as Al-Qaeda, its affiliates, other terrorist groups, as well as all other outlaw groups, such as criminal remnants of the former regime; and to provide security assurances to the Iraqi Government to deter any external aggression and to ensure the integrity of Iraq’s territory.”
U.S. forces, in other words, are going to be expected to protect the Maliki government for the foreseeable future — a promise that comes at a time when a growing number of conservative war supporters are prepared to throw Maliki under the bus after a series of political setbacks.
Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of Salon.com’s Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.
Surely the Bush-al-Maliki Declaration (November 26, 2007) merits a place on the mantel alongside UN Security Council Resolution 1546 (June 8, 2004) as the most perfect examples that history can provide of a thief granting himself not only a pardon, but also the title to what he stole.
— David Peterson, Chicago, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America
The White House
As Iraqi leaders confirmed in their Communiqué signed on August 26, 2007, and endorsed by President Bush, the Governments of Iraq and the United States are committed to developing a long-term relationship of cooperation and friendship as two fully sovereign and independent states with common interests. This relationship will serve the interest of coming generations based on the heroic sacrifices made by the Iraqi people and the American people for the sake of a free, democratic, pluralistic, federal, and unified Iraq.
The relationship of cooperation envisioned by the Republic of Iraq and the United States includes a range of issues, foremost of which is cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, and security fields, taking account of the following principles:
First: The Political, Diplomatic, and Cultural Spheres
1. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in defending its democratic system against internal and external threats.
2. Respecting and upholding the Constitution as the expression of the will of the Iraqi people and standing against any attempt to impede, suspend, or violate it.
3. Supporting the efforts of the Republic of Iraq to achieve national reconciliation including as envisioned in the Communiqué of August 26.
4. Supporting the Republic of Iraq’s efforts to enhance its position in regional and international organizations and institutions so that it may play a positive and constructive role in the region and the world.
5. Cooperating jointly with the states of the region on the basis of mutual respect, non-intervention in internal affairs, rejection of the use of violence in resolving disputes, and adoption of constructive dialogue in resolving outstanding problems among the various states of the region.
6. Promoting political efforts to establish positive relationships between the states of the region and the world, which serve the common goals of all relevant parties in a manner that enhances the security and stability of the region, and the prosperity of its peoples.
7. Encouraging cultural, educational, and scientific exchanges between the two countries.
Second: The Economic Sphere1. Supporting Iraq’s development in various economic fields, including its productive capabilities, and aiding its transition to a market economy.
2. Encouraging all parties to abide by their commitments as stipulated in the International Compact with Iraq.
3. Supporting the building of Iraq’s economic institutions and infrastructure with the provision of financial and technical assistance to train and develop competencies and capacities of vital Iraqi institutions.
4. Supporting Iraq’s further integration into regional and international financial and economic organizations.
5. Facilitating and encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments, to contribute to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq.
6. Assisting Iraq in recovering illegally exported funds and properties, especially those smuggled by the family of Saddam Hussein and his regime’s associates, as well as antiquities and items of cultural heritage, smuggled before and after April 9, 2003.
7. Helping the Republic of Iraq to obtain forgiveness of its debts and compensation for the wars waged by the former regime.
8. Supporting the Republic of Iraq to obtain positive and preferential trading conditions for Iraq within the global marketplace including accession to the World Trade Organization and most favored nation status with the United States.
Third: The Security Sphere
Providing security assurances and commitments to the Republic of Iraq to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace.
Supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to combat all terrorist groups, at the forefront of which is Al-Qaeda, Saddamists, and all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation, and destroy their logistical networks and their sources of finance, and defeat and uproot them from Iraq. This support will be provided consistent with mechanisms and arrangements to be established in the bilateral cooperation agreements mentioned herein. 3. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in training, equipping, and arming the Iraqi Security Forces to enable them to protect Iraq and all its peoples, and completing the building of its administrative systems, in accordance with the request of the Iraqi government.
The Iraqi Government in confirmation of its resolute rights under existing Security Council resolutions will request to extend the mandate of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter for a final time. As a condition for this request, following the expiration of the above mentioned extension, Iraq’s status under Chapter VII and its designation as a threat to international peace and security will end, and Iraq will return to the legal and international standing it enjoyed prior to the issuance of U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 661 (August, 1990), thus enhancing the recognition and confirming the full sovereignty of Iraq over its territories, waters, and airspace, and its control over its forces and the administration of its affairs.
Taking into account the principles discussed above, bilateral negotiations between the Republic of Iraq and the United States shall begin as soon as possible, with the aim to achieve, before July 31, 2008, agreements between the two governments with respect to the political, cultural, economic, and security spheres.
• President of the United States of America
George W. Bush
• Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq
Nouri Kamel Al-Maliki