Washington, D.C. — Council for a Livable World, a leading anti-Iraq war organization, announced its support today for the status of forces agreement recently signed by the United States and Iraq.
Iraqi and American negotiators have been working on the pact for over a year. The Iraqi parliament is expected to vote on the agreement on Wednesday. To pass, the agreement needs to get 138 votes out of 275 Iraqi lawmakers and also must be ratified by the Iraqi presidential council.
â€œGiven where we find ourselves today, we see the agreement as the best way for the United States to leave Iraq promptly and responsibly,â€� said John Isaacs, executive director of Council for a Livable World. The agreement reflects the views held by the majority of Iraqis and Americans that it is time for U.S. combat forces to start getting out of Iraq.â€�
Isaacs is available for comment today (Wednesday, November 26) from Washington, DC until 3PM.
The agreement mandates that â€œall U.S. combat forcesâ€� withdraw from urban areas in Iraq by June 30, 2009, and that â€œall U.S. forcesâ€� withdraw from the country by December 31, 2011. The agreement upholds Iraqâ€™s â€œsovereign rightâ€� to demand the departure of U.S. forces anytime and recognizes the United Statesâ€™ â€œsovereign rightâ€� to remove its forces earlier than the end of 2011.
The agreement also bars permanent American bases in Iraq, prohibits the United States from using Iraqi territory to launch attacks against other nations, and bars any residual U.S. forces in Iraq beyond the end of 2011.
â€œThe signing of this agreement, along with the election of a new president who ran on a platform to end the war in Iraq, suggests that anti-Iraq war efforts have not been in vain,â€� added Isaacs. â€œPrimary credit of course goes to the Iraqis. They drove a hard bargain.â€�
As with any complicated accord, not every part of the status of forces agreement is perfect. Downsides include both the Bush administration's refusal to send the agreement to Congress for approval and various ambiguities in the text that could lead to future disputes.
â€œQuestion marks remain in the agreement concerning freedom of action for U.S. soldiers, vague security commitments, and protection of Iraqi assets,â€� said Travis Sharp, a defense analyst at Council for a Livable World who studied the agreement. â€œThankfully the text provides President-elect Barack Obama with flexibility to amend or cancel the agreement if he needs to.â€�