FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Immunity in Iraq

Baghdad

The Iraqi armed services are likely to target American security companies,  which are widely hated in Iraq, when they lose their legal immunity under  a new agreement between the US and the Iraq.

The main American concession, during prolonged and rancorous  negotiations over a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which would  determine the future military relationship between the US and Iraq, has  been to agree to lift the immunity hitherto enjoyed by the 154,000  contractors of whom 35,000 are private security men.

“The Iraqi forces will follow them with vigor because they are not  popular in Iraq,”said Ahmed Chalabi, the veteran Iraqi politician, in an  interview . “People haven’t forgotten about the  Iraqis who were killed by private security men in Nisour Square.” Security  personnel from Blackwater USA are accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians,  including a mother and child, when they opened fire in Nisour Square in  west Baghdad on 16 September last year.

The ending of the immunity of foreign contractors will have serious  consequences for the 142,000 US troops in Iraq who are highly reliant on  them. Mr Chalabi says it is likely that the Iraqi security forces and judiciary  will go out of their way to pursue and arrest foreign security men who  break Iraqi law which they have hitherto flouted.   He also said that the loss of immunity of American contractors would  make US intelligence operations more difficult because private companies  have been used to maintain links with opponents of the Iranian regime  based in Iraq, notably the Mojahedin-e-Khalq. This enables the US  government to deny that it has contacts with such groups.

Mr Chalabi, who recently returned from Iran where he had talks with  Iranian leaders, said “the Iranians are implacably opposed to the deal. It  consecrates America’s massive presence here and threatens their security.  They say this will be a ‘non-security agreement’ and ‘not a security  Agreement’ and they are happy for everybody to know this.” Iranian  hostility would be serious for Iraq since Iran played a central role in  mediating an end to fighting between the Mehdi Army Shia  militia and the  government in the first half of the year.

In an unexpected but important development the negotiation of a US- Iraqi agreement, to replace the current UN mandate for US forces, which is  due to run out at the end of the year, is leading to a resurgence of Iraqi  nationalism previously masked by Shia-Sunni sectarian conflict.  Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki embarrassed the White House by  saying for the first time on Monday that Iraq wants some kind of time table  for a withdrawal of American forces included in the present agreement.  The National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie followed this up by  saying: “We would not accept any memorandum of understanding with  [the US] side that has no obvious and specific dates for the withdrawal of  foreign troops from Iraq.”

American officials have tried to present these demands as wholly  conditional on the effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces which now  number over half a million men. An Iraqi official supporting a US-Iraq  agreement said: “It will be easier to sell it to Iraqis if it is presented as a  way of getting the Americans to withdraw. We still need them. We could  not cope if, hypothetically, there was an uprising in Basra, an army mutiny  in Anbar or the Kurds unilaterally annexed Kirkuk.”

But important Iraqi leaders have sought to outbid each other over the  last three weeks in criticizing American rights under the SOFA while Iraqi  supporters of the agreement have been largely mute. This suggests that  the position of Republican presidential candidate John McCain that the US  occupation should continue for many years will soon no longer be tenable.  “We should negotiate with the next administration,” said Dr Mahmoud  Othman, the veteran Kurdish politician and MP. “A letter of understanding  will be sufficient for now. If the agreement does not bind the next  administration why sign it? People will think it is being done to help the  Republican party. It has been hurried because this administration wants to  show that it has achieved something. This is obvious.”

Defenders of the SOFA, such as the Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari,  say that the agreement will limit and define American rights in Iraq. The  alternative is to continue with the UN mandate under which US forces can  do what they want. But the negotiations have provoked a nationalist  backlash among Arab Iraqis because it highlights the extent to which  America control their country in future.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the Ihe author of “Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail