The US is now putting significant pressure on the Iraqi government to sign up for another three years of US occupation. They are threatening that “the consequences of not having a Sofa (Status of Forces Agreement) and of not having a renewed UN authorisation are pretty dramatic in terms of consequences for our actions”.
According to US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, ‘A failure to put an agreement in place could mean a loss of ground against al-Qaida and Iranian-backed militias and criminal elements in Iraq’.
The UN mandate which covers the current allied presence in Iraq expires on 31 December this year but US administration officials are anxious to tie up an agreement to extend their occupation for a further three years as soon as possible; presumably before the presidential election on 4 November. If the Iraqi government doesn’t agree to the ‘Sofa’ arrangements proposed then the US will need to seek an extension of the UN mandate. Given the current frosty climate between the US and Russia, a UN Security Council member that holds veto power over any UN mandates, a UN extension of a mandate isn’t necessarily a given just because the US want it.
Since there is no al ‘Qaeda in Iraq’, and a continued American presence in Iraq is more likely to encourage Iranian-backed militias rather than dissipate their influence, and considering that the majority of ‘criminal elements’ in Iraq are those that are finance by the US, it would seem that Iraq would be far better off it were to get rid of the US entirely from their country so that the Iraqi people can determine for themselves their own destiny which something they are going to have to do sooner or later anyway; if not now, then in three years time.
One has to wonder what Secretary of Defence Gates has in mind when he says “the consequences of not having a Sofa (Status of Forces Agreement) and of not having a renewed UN authorisation are pretty dramatic in terms of consequences for our actions”.