Cross posted on Iraq Insider
Raed Jarrar of AFSC has posted an English translation of the U.S.-Iraq security agreement. In Spencer Ackerman’s words, “It confirms how deeply the Bush administration has been forced to climb down from its timetables-for-withdrawal-equals-defeat position.”
The agreement already has come under fire in Iraq because many Iraqi lawmakers oppose it and now are seeking to reopen negotiations. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, however, said yesterday that “There is great reluctance to engage further in the drafting process…I don’t think you slam the door shut, but I would say it’s pretty far closed.”
Below is a quick look at three elements of the agreement.
Timeline for withdrawal
The agreement states that “U.S. forces shall withdraw from Iraqi territories no later than December 31st 2011.” It also states that “U.S. combat forces will withdraw from all cities, towns, and villages as soon as the Iraqi forces take over…no later than June 30th, 2009.” The agreement hedges, however, by asserting that these withdrawal dates can be extended or reduced subject to both countries’ approval.
This means, in theory, U.S. forces could begin coming home sooner than 2011. “The U.S. government recognizes the Iraqi government’s sovereign right to request a withdrawal of U.S. forces at anytime,” the agreement reads. As Ilan Goldenberg explains, “Only if the Iraqi Government asks the U.S. Government to specifically maintain additional forces in Iraq can the timeline be extended. The United States cannot ask for and has no real control over an extension of any kind. Considering that the U.S. presence is overwhelmingly unpopular, any consideration or request from an Iraqi government for an extension of the timeline would be tantamount to political suicide.”
On the issue of legal authority over American soldiers, the text establishes that the United States has primary jurisdiction over American soldiers and civilians both inside U.S. installations and when they are on duty outside installations.
On the other hand, Iraq has primary legal jurisdiction over off duty soldiers and civilians who commit “major and intentional crimes” outside U.S. installations. These major crimes will need to be defined by a joint committee. Iraq also has primary legal jurisdiction over contractors with the United States and their employees.
The agreement states that while both countries waive their rights to request compensation for injury or death occurring during official U.S. combat duties, the United States will continue its pattern of paying “fair and reasonable compensation” for third party claims.