Mohammed from Iraq The Model writes in a new post today about the new SOFA agreement, and the resistance against it from all corners:
The status of forces agreement (SOFA) can be regarded as the crown jewel of the U.S.-led change in Iraq. It’s not an overstatement to say that it represents an aspect of victory in this war. By victory I mean that it will mark the beginning of a time in which Iraq is officially a partner of the U.S., as it will join Iraq and the U.S. in a new relationship that serves the national interests of both countries. Above all, it will be a major boost for the effort in the war on terror as it will guarantee that Iraq will not fall prey to extremists.
Mohammed wonders why this crown jewel of the regime change in Iraq is being shot down from many quarters. Iran disagreeing with it is a given. It will prevent them from getting a foothold, and more power, in Iraq.
But what he does find surprising is the fact that some of the obstruction is coming from a Presidential candidate. Wanna take a guess on which one?
What I find surprising is that someone from America is trying to obstruct the treaty. Believe it or not, there’s actually a guy who has no executive authority whatsoever — except in opinion polls — who is trying to bypass the actual top diplomats of the United States and undermine their negotiation efforts with a friendly state, at a time of war.
I was hoping that presidential candidates would not put their electoral objectives above those of their nation. Alas, blinding greed and selfishness seem to prevail sometimes.
I don’t dare suggest that Obama wanted to obstruct the treaty because it threatens Iran and other despots in the Middle East; I’m sure his purpose is different. The thing is that his purpose is also different from that of the U.S. or of Iraq — two friendly states looking forward to building long-lasting cooperation based on shared interests and mutual respect. We want victory in the war; Obama wants victory in elections — this is the problem. I’m not sure how or if people here think the treaty might affect the presidential race, but in Iraq and the Middle East people think that signing the treaty before elections would be regarded as a victory for Republicans that could propel McCain to the White House. Again Iran and many in the Middle East don’t want McCain to be in the White House. I guess that’s one thing they have in common with Obama.
By George! I think he got it!
Don’t have to look far for the evidence either:
At the same time the Bush administration was negotiating a still elusive agreement to keep the U.S. military in Iraq, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to convince Iraqi leaders in private conversations that the president shouldn’t be allowed to enact the deal without congressional approval.
Mr. Obama’s conversations with the Iraqi leaders, confirmed to The Washington Times by his campaign aides, began just two weeks after he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination in June and stirred controversy over the appropriateness of a White House candidate’s contacts with foreign governments while the sitting president is conducting a war.
Some of the specifics of the conversations remain the subject of dispute. Iraqi leaders purported to The Times that Mr. Obama urged Baghdad to delay an agreement with Mr. Bush until next year when a new president will be in office – a charge the Democratic campaign denies.~~~
“In the conversation, the senator urged Iraq to delay the [memorandum of understanding] between Iraq and the United States until the new administration was in place,” said Samir Sumaidaie, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States.
Much as been made from both sides on the above story. Some saying it never happened. Some saying it did happen but during a phone call in June, either way it’s certain Obama doesn’t want this SOFA being done before he is inaugurated…..and its not because its best for Iraq. No, its because it is best for him.
Meanwhile, in other news from Iraq, and news which won’t be reported on by the MSM, is that things are going quite well:
PRTs Have Seen Significant Success Working With Local Government Officials
- Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team has contributed to the following results:
- Securing funding for 39 reconstruction projects that will employ 6,000 young Iraqis and distribute 200 metric tons of wheat seed to struggling famers in drought-afflicted areas in the province.
- Increasing coordination with the Iraqi Government and their local counterparts on reconstruction.
- Working with the Iraqi Government to place new judges willing to convict terrorists in the province.
- Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team has contributed to the following results:
- Distributing food and clothing to more than 1,000 of the province’s poorest citizens during Ramadan this year.
- Obtaining furniture and equipment for two secondary schools and supplied Maysan University with a computer lab, internet, and donated books for students.
- Continuing to encourage reconciliation with tribal leaders and government officials.
- Sadr City Provincial Reconstruction Team has contributed to the following results:
- Partnering with local leaders to provide 265,000 school uniforms and backpacks for students – an initiative that is also helping local community businesses grow.
- Rehabilitating four health clinics, supporting youth soccer leagues, and helping support a women’s clinic that provides medical assistance, education, and domestic violence counseling.
The Government Of Iraq Has Taken Over Reconstruction And Is Working To Respond To The Needs Of The Iraqi People
- Since 2003, the Government of Iraq has appropriated $85 billion for reconstruction and security costs, as compared to $50 billion by the United States. The United States has not appropriated any funds for major reconstruction since 2005.
- The Iraqi Government continues to increase its budgets across the board – a base budget followed by a supplemental passed in August of this year brought the total to $72 billion, a substantial increase from 2007’s $41 billion.
- The Iraqi Government’s budget execution has picked up in 2008 – the total government expenditure through June 2008 was $19 billion, compared to $10 billion through the same period last year.
- The Government of Iraq recently took over responsibility for paying the salaries of approximately 51,000 Sons of Iraq serving in the Baghdad area. Iraq’s security ministries are paying for more than 80 percent of the annual cost of the Iraqi military and police under the 2008 budget.
Iraqi Leaders Are Working Together And Making Further Progress On Political Reconciliation
While security gains remain fragile, the Iraqi government is making political progress. The Council of Representatives has passed several major pieces of legislation, including a pension law, De-Ba’athification reform, an amnesty law, and a provincial powers law. Neighboring countries have begun restoring diplomatic relations with Iraq – a true sign of the country’s increasing reintegration into the region.
- Iraq’s Parliament passed a Provincial Elections Law, enabling Iraq to hold provincial elections by January 31, 2009. Elections in Iraq can now be held under a new system that will give Iraqis more say in choosing their elected representatives.
- The national government is sharing oil revenues with provinces despite the absence of a hydrocarbon and revenue-sharing law.
- Iraq’s neighbors are reestablishing diplomatic relations – Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, and the League of Arab States have all named ambassadors to Iraq. The U.A.E. became the first Arab nation to post its ambassador to Baghdad and give Iraq 100 percent debt relief of approximately $7 billion.
- Regional leaders are traveling to Iraq to pursue productive dialogue – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, King Abdullah of Jordan, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed have all visited Baghdad.
Iraqi Security Forces’ Capacity Continues To Improve As Security Incidents In Iraq Remain At Their Lowest Levels Since Early 2004
- Successful operations led by Iraqi Security Forces in Basrah, Mosul, and Sadr City to take on Al Qaeda in Iraq have helped improve security in cities once plagued by insurgents.
- High profile attacks have decreased by 70 percent in Iraq, ethno-sectarian violence across Iraq has gone down 96 percent, and civilian causalities have gone down 76 percent since this time last year.
Return on Success continues: All five surge brigade combat teams, two Marine battalions, a Marine Expeditionary Unit, and many of our coalition partners have left Iraq to return home – made possible by the sustained security gains we have seen in Iraq.