Saturday, November 8, 2008

Return of the Baghdad Pact

Bush wants to give Iraq one last gift: subservience to an agreement that perpetuates the US occupation and absolves invading and occupying US forces of their crimes

By Galal Nassar
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....If the agreement, the cosignatories of which can hardly be said to be equal, is concluded it will effectively end the international mandate over Iraq. Iraq would then be regarded as a "free and independent" nation and Washington would be relieved of the burden of being seen as a colonialist power occupying a founding member of the UN and a current member of the family of nations, in spite of the ongoing and glaring breaches in international law, the UN Charter and the principle of self-determination.

The architects of the agreement and those who are engineering its implementation seem to have deliberately blinded themselves to the fact that it takes little mental effort to realise that, under the reality of occupation, any agreement or understanding signed between Washington and Baghdad lacks legitimacy. Perhaps this is what prompted the Arab Lawyers' Federation to issue a statement condemning the draft security agreement between Iraq and the US out of hand and describing it as a colonialist project that violates the sovereignty and independence of Iraq and that poses a threat to Arab national security.

Indeed, the proposed agreement differs little from the other pacts that the British or French colonial powers imposed on the region in earlier periods. Moreover, as the statement by the Arab Lawyers' Federation pointed out, since the Iraqi government lacks the sovereignty to act autonomously any agreement with the occupying power will lack a legitimate contractual nature. The statement further stressed that the articles of the agreement violate in substance the rules and principles of international law because they specify a timeframe for maintaining an illegitimate foreign military presence in Iraq......

The haze surrounding American plans for Iraq and even domestic policies, the apprehensions of regional powers with regard to a long-term US military presence in the region, and the pressures these powers are exerting on their allies inside Iraq are what account for the delays in concluding the SOFA. Nevertheless, this has not kept some from grumbling against the "ingratitude" of those who are in power in Iraq today. As one of these officials put it, were it not for American tanks none of them would have a foothold in Iraq these days let alone title and rank.

Signing the SOFA and bowing to international or regional agendas will not restore security and independence to Iraq. On the contrary, it will legalise the occupation. Iraq will not know true security and peace until the Iraqi people themselves take hold of the actual reins of power and exercise their right to self-determination in a truly free and sovereign Arab state."

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