Al-Sadr: the Security Agreement permits the permanent presence of American Forces

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October 19, 2008 by The Mormon Worker

Many early opponents of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq have long argued that the US war had little to do with WMD, and alot to do with US efforts to establish and maintain a permanent military presence in Iraq in order to project military power in the heart of the worlds energy producing countries. Many Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, share this concern and are strongly opposed to the signing of the agreement. BBC news reported yesterday that the Sadr Movement organized a roughly 50,000 strong demonstration, where protesters shouted “Get out occupier!” to warn Iraqi politicians not to support its signing. See the BBC video here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7677794.stm

If the American government had any respect for Iraqi democracy it would end attempts to sign the agreement and withdraw from Iraq. Below is my translation of an excerpt from an article addressing this issue, which appeared today in Al-Hayat newspaper.

Al-Sadr: the Security Agreement permits the permanent presence of American Forces

10/19/08 Al-Hayat Newspaper

Shiite religious leader Muqtada Al-Sadr warned Iraqi officials against signing the security agreement with the United States of America, because “it will not give Iraqis sovereignty over their own country and will not end the occupation. . .”

During the large demonstration “against the occupation” organized by his movement in Baghdad and in a statement read by Sheikh Abdel Hadi Al-Muhammadawi, Sadr called on the Iraqi parliament to “reject the security agreement [with the U.S.] because it will give permission for the presence of permanent bases for the American Forces in Iraq.” And in a strong attack on the government and politicians which support the signing of the agreement, Sadr said, “If one of them [politicians] says that it will give you [the Iraqi people] sovereignty, he is a liar.” And he expressed that the agreement will become a mark of shame on the face of Iraq and its government with the passing of time, just like Camp David and Sykes-Picot and other such agreements which also had humanitarian facades.

http://www.alhayat.com/arab_news/levant_news/10-2008/Article-20081018-116f18f9-c0a8-10ed-00aa-b9bd650f6039/story.html

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4 thoughts on “Al-Sadr: the Security Agreement permits the permanent presence of American Forces

  1. Many Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, share this concern and are strongly opposed to the signing of the agreement. BBC news reported yesterday that the Sadr Movement organized a roughly 50,000 strong demonstration, where protesters shouted “Get out occupier!” to warn Iraqi politicians not to support its signing. […] If the American government had any respect for Iraqi democracy it would end attempts to sign the agreement and withdraw from Iraq.

    Huh?

    The U.S. is negotiating with the elected Iraqi government. Mr. al-Sadr is not a part of the Iraqi government. 50,000 people is not a lot of people in a nation of 25 million. Yet you are saying that the U.S. must obey those 50,000 instead of negotiating with the actual elected government, out of “respect for Iraqi democracy”.

    It seems like what you’re doing is saying that (for some reason) whatever Sadr says, should go. But Sadr was not elected to anything. Why should his diktats be the law of Iraqi land? Sounds like you’re the one who has no respect for Iraqi democracy.

    Meanwhile the U.S. government will continue to talk to the Iraqi government and we’ll see what comes of it (maybe nothing, maybe something). If the Iraqi government signs an agreement with the U.S. government, what’s the problem? The U.S. has such agreements with many nations and I don’t hear this kind of hand-wringing about it.

  2. Sonic Charmer,
    Thanks for the comment. Most polls i’ve seen asking Iraqis whether they would like the US to withdraw or not indicate that the majority do not want the US to stay in Iraq. Some feel the US presence is necessarily temporarily, ie for a couple more years, after which the US should withdraw, while others want the US to withdraw immediately. If this is the case then it is against the will of most Iraqis for the US to maintain a long term presence, continue building permanent military bases, etc. In spite of that, the Bush Administration has been trying very hard to sign an agreement with Prime Minister Maliki and push it through the Iraqi Parliament, where there has also been alot of resistance. Though Maliki has been making demands for a timetable for withdrawal as part of the agreement (2011), the reports on the agreement i’ve seen so far indicate that such a withdrawal would take place in that year conditions permitting, so it is not binding, the US will be able to delay the withdrawal if they prefer. You are correct that a demonstration of 50,000 is no proof that the majority of Iraqis are opposed to the agreement. i simply mentioned it in conjunction with the Al Hayat article because the the Al-Hayat article made no mention of the numbers attending. The basic point is that, from what i can tell, most Iraqis are opposed to the agreement. Sadr’s comments in Al Hayat along with the BBC story are just one manifestation of that.
    Additionally, the current Iraqi government suffers from pretty low approval ratings, many nationalist Iraqis consider it a puppet government of the US, so even though the government was chosen through elections, many Iraqis feel the government is illigitimate as the elections took place under occupation and some groups therefore boycotted. A common complaint of Iraqi nationalists as well is that the current Iraqi government should not sign an agreement with the US, because any agreement would not be between two equal parties, or two sovereign nations. For the Iraqi government to sign an agreement while under occupation, with the very same nation occupying Iraq, it would not be the same as say, an agreement the US has signed with Qatar, or Saudi Arabia, or other nations which have their sovereignty.

  3. Most polls i’ve seen asking Iraqis whether they would like the US to withdraw or not indicate that the majority do not want the US to stay in Iraq.

    That may or may not be so, but Iraqi democracy does not mean “government by poll on every issue” any more than American democracy does. A majority of Americans were against the recent financial bailout, yet Congress passed it. Do I get to accuse everyone who favored the bailout, including a majority of Congress, of a lack of respect for democracy?

    and push it through the Iraqi Parliament, where there has also been alot of resistance.

    If there’s enough resistance in the Parliament as you imply, it won’t pass, and therefore won’t happen, so this convo is moot. If it does pass, evidently there will not have been as much resistance as you imply. Either way we’ll see.

    A common complaint of Iraqi nationalists as well is that the current Iraqi government should not sign an agreement with the US, because any agreement would not be between two equal parties, or two sovereign nations.

    I don’t know whether this a common complaint, or among whom exactly (or even what group precisely you mean to denote by “Iraqi nationalists”), but in any event I don’t believe it has merit. The very fact that this vote is in doubt and negotiations are needed puts the lie to the notion that the government is our puppet.

    In any event, it’s not clear what I’m supposed to take away from the fact that there are people in Iraq (as I’m sure there are) who have this objection – that the Iraqi government is “illegitimate” and treaties signed with it are invalid and whatever. Ok, there exist people who believe that – but what makes them so special? Why must one necessarily listen to them in particular above all others? I mean, there are people in the U.S. who believe that the U.S. government is “illegitimate” and its edicts and treaties are invalid. I don’t see you trumpeting that opinion as an argument for ignoring/invalidating this or that U.S. government action/negotiation (and rightly so).

    Playing up some or another antigovernment faction’s claims of a governments “illegitimacy” is a choice one makes – a choice you have apparently made, for whatever reason of your own. But it is not a choice others are compelled or required to follow. I view Sadr as the Iraqi equivalent of a Montana militiaman type (albeit with a larger militia, which makes him more dangerous but not more legitimate), and my opinion of his utterances is weighted accordingly. Why isn’t yours?

    The answer, probably, is because you start from the premise that you want the U.S. military presence to be withdrawn from Iraq, and therefore you look for purported reasons (such as the Sadr rally, etc) to support an argument for that desire of yours. It’s clearly not vice versa. Best,

  4. william says:

    Sonic Charmer

    “Do I get to accuse everyone who favored the bailout, including a majority of Congress, of a lack of respect for democracy?”

    It is certainly not the case that every government has to base every decision on poll (there is a roll for experts in military, economic and other fields) however the job of any democratic government, as opposed to authoritarian governments is to broadly represent the desires and interests of its people. To the extent that the US government totally ignores the wishes of the US populace, they can be accused of acting in an undemocratic way. The bailout is occurred quickly and is a complicated issue so it may not be reasonable for the general American populace to understand the issues and have a good sense for what the appropriate actions to take might be. I certainly had that difficulty. As far as the US presence in Iraq goes, however, Iraqis have lived under US occupation for five years now and have intimate knowledge of the negative effects it has had on Iraqi society, ie many deaths from US air strikes and shootings, detentions, torture, sectarian conflict, massive unemployment, the deterioration of the health system, increases in kidnapping and crime, trans-national Islamists flooding the country and carrying out terrorist attacks, etc. They are in a farely good position to know whether it would benefit them to have the US stay in Iraq indefinitely or go, whether immediately or after a certain period of time. With all the talk of invading Iraq for the sake of democracy, the basic wishes of the Iraqi people should be taken into account. The only way the US has any legitimate right to be in Iraq is at the invitation of the Iraqi people. They can’t simply make an agreement with the ruling political party (which itself depends on US support to stay in power and is subject to US coercion.) and say we made an agreement with “the Iraqis” and consider it illegitmate. You’re right that we’ll see this play out over the next months, and

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