Al Sabaah, Iraq

Tentative Deal Reached for Withdrawal of U.S. Forces

 

"Baghdad and Washington have set a time limit for the withdrawal of American forces during 2010 and 2011 subject to change according to circumstances The agreement stipulates that arrests by the American army can only be made with the advance knowledge of the Iraqi government, and that no violations of the rights of Iraqi citizens will be permitted. Iraqi and American negotiating teams also agreed to the return of all U.S. forces to their barracks."

 

Translated By James Jacobson

 

August 5, 2008

 

Iraq - Al-Sabaah - Original Article (Arabic)

Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki: Al-Sabaah sources say a tentative deal for the withdrawal of U.S. forces has been reached - and that U.S. troops will be out by 2011.

 

BBC NEWS VIDEO: British Army's reputation is damaged, after it admits making a secret deal with Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, which is why they sat on the sidelines druing the Battle of Basra, Aug. 5, 00:02:18. RealVideo

Baghdad: According to a memorandum of understanding to be signed by the two parties after a summary of results is presented to political leaders, Baghdad and Washington have set a time limit for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq during the years 2010 and 2011, subject to change according to circumstances. In addition, Al-Sabaah has learned of an important meeting held this morning by several National Assembly bloc leaders, during which a decision was made to hold a vote on a new provincial election law in the event a comprehensive agreement could be reached. Otherwise the vote will be postponed, perhaps until the next legislative term.

 

Well-informed sources told Al-Sabaah: "the two teams of experts - American and Iraqi - will present a summary of their discussions to political leaders of their respective countries over the next few days, stressing that, "negotiations are continuing between the two parties and are near a conclusion, which may permit the rapid signing of the Status of Forces Agreement [SOFA]."

 

The sources, which spoke in condition of anonymity, revealed that considerable progress had been made in the talks and in principal, a bilateral agreement for a withdrawal of American forces during 2010 and 2011 had been reached, subject to change according to circumstances.

 

The withdrawal may be completed by mid-2010, according to our sources. They also say that a consensus had been reached regarding the issue of arrests. The agreement stipulates that arrests by the American army can only be made with the advance knowledge of the Iraqi government, and that no violations of the rights of Iraqi citizens will be permitted. Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and American President George W. Bush agreed last month to uphold a "declaration of intent," that was signed by the two leaders last year, which called for advancing relations between Iraq and the United States of America.

 

During a telephone conversation, the sources added that Iraqi and American negotiating teams also agreed to the return of all U.S. forces to their barracks, in addition to continuing the training of Iraqi forces and preparing them for all necessary commitments. They confirmed that the political leadership has empowered Prime Minister Al-Maliki to sign the memorandum of understanding, after a consensus national position emerged during the course of the talks.

 

 

Meanwhile, political factions are still looking for an overall national consensus on a comprehensive election law for holding provincial elections, after Monday's National Assembly session was postponed. First Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly, Sheikh Khaled Al-Attiyah, told Al-Sabaah that the Supreme Constitutional Court agreed to extend the work of the Assembly until a supplementary budget bill could be approved. Sources also revealed to Al-Sabaah that political leaders have tied the approval of the supplementary budget bill to the passage of the electoral law, to provide legal cover so a consensus on the electoral law can be reached.

 

[Editor's Note: Tensions are high over the new election law, as the legislative polls are expected to redistribute power in Iraq's 18 provinces in what is considered a necessary step toward reconciliation. Last time around in January 2005, many Sunni Arabs boycotted provincial balloting, enabling Shiite Muslims and Kurds to win a disproportionate share of power. Now the two groups - especially the Kurds, are sensitive to changes in the law, since they are bound to lose influence. Kurds particularly reject plans for power-sharing in the ethnically mixed - and oil rich - city of Kirkuk ].

 

A sources close to the meeting held yesterday afternoon in the presence of most of the national leadership, said that a final meeting would take place today [Aug. 5] between National Assembly bloc leaders to take a decision on whether to vote on the law or postpone it, possibly until the next legislative period. If the legislation is delayed, it would mean that legislative polls would be postponed until next year.

Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

 

Moreover, Baghdad has begun to implement policies characterized by a new openness to all of the world's capitals, in order to turn a page on the past and the wrong of the former regime. Iraq wishes to begin new relationships with all countries, especially those in the region, which will be characterized by cooperation, coordination and non-interference in the internal affairs of others.

 

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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US August 6, 12:16am]