Americans Eying Legal Immunity In Iraq – OpEd


By Mahmoud Rasouli

US authorities ignore the American people’s objection to the country’s continued military presence in Iraq despite the growth in the domestic protests. They are even trying to extend the deployment through a number of concessions.

The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen has told Baghdad that if they want the troops to stay longer than the date set in the bilateral Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), they must be granted legal immunity.

The situation is a reminder of former Iranian Prime Minister Hassan-Ali Mansour’s inking of the controversial Geneva Convention American Force Protection Act, also known as the Capitulation Law, during his tenure in the US-backed monarchical Pahlavi regime. The bilateral accord rendered the American expatriates in Iran answerable to US law not the Iranian one.

On Tuesday, Mullen said any agreement to prolong the GIs’ stay beyond the 2011 deadline agreed in SOFA was contingent upon the Iraqi parliament’s granting them immunity from legal prosecution.

Mullen asked the Iraqi officials’ opinion on the potential overstay of the forces despite Iraqi government officials and different parties in the country’s recurrently having insisted on the need for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to the scheduled deadline.

It should be said that at the end of a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal al-Talabani on Tuesday evening political factions agreed to have Baghdad negotiate with Washington about the presence of a number of American forces in Iraq for training purposes. The green light prompted US authorities to make the prolonged stay contingent upon more concessions.

Based on the US-Iraq SOFA accord, Washington is obliged to cease its military operation in Iraq by the end of August 2011 and pull its remaining 47,000 troopers fully out by the end of December this year.

On the other hand, Mullen’s remarks about the need for giving immunity to US forces in Iraq comes one day after US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) Stuart Bowen warned in a report that Iraq has become more insecure compared with the last year and that security conditions in the country have deteriorated.

It now appears that not only are the Americans unwilling to leave Iraq but they are looking for excuses to continue their presence in the oil-rich country and to obtain permits to go on with their crimes there.

This while, before this and considering its slim chance for extending its military presence in Iraq the US was trying to replace its military forces in Iraq with private security contractors.

However, since the Iraqi people had the bitter experience of the crimes committed by the private security forces of Black Water – which has now changed its name to Xe Service – that plan also faced massive opposition by the Iraqi people and government.

In 2003, the US invaded Iraq under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction allegedly stockpiled by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

However, later it was revealed that not only the former Iraqi regime was not in possession of the arms, but also that the US and British leaders, who had defended the military action, knew about the non-existence of such weapons.

Over one million Iraqis have been killed during the invasion, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.

Press TV

Press TV is a state funded news network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran and seeks to counter a western view on news.

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