Friday, June 13, 2008

Maliki: US-Iraq Security Deal Fails

Alalam News reports: Iraq's Premier Nuri al-Maliki said on Friday that negotiations with the US on a security agreement that extends US presence in the war-torn country beyond 2008 has reached a "dead end."

Maliki said that the talks have failed because of US demands that infringe Iraq's sovereignty.

During a visit to neighboring Jordan, Maliki told journalists: "We have reached a dead end, because when we started the talks, we found that the US demands hugely infringe on the sovereignty of Iraq, and this we can never accept."

The controversial pact paves the way for long-term presence of occupation troops in Iraq after the UN mandate ends in 2008.

The US presence currently relies on a mandate by the UN, renewed annually upon the request of the Iraqi government.

The deal would also give the occupation troops a free rein to carry out military operations whenever and wherever they deem necessary.

It contains unannounced objectives, including using facilities and potentials in Iraq to bring developments in the Middle East under its control, which would leave dangerous consequences.

The Iraqi prime minister said Iraq objected to Washington's insistence on giving its troops immunity from prosecution in Iraq and freedom to conduct operations independent of Iraqi control.

Maliki said: "We can't extend the US forces permission to arrest Iraqis or to undertake terror fighting in an independent way, or to keep Iraqi skies and waters open for themselves whenever they want."

"One of the important issues that the US is asking for is immunity for its soldiers and those contracting with it. We reject this totally," Makili added.

However, US President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that he was confident of reaching an agreement with Iraq. (Dubya is really totally out of touch. VS)

US officials say they hope to reach a deal by July, but Iraqi officials have been more cautious and suggested that date may be missed.

The security deal had earlier drawn a volley of criticisms from both international and domestic political and religious figures.

Iraqi political figures, scholars and media activists have all expressed their disgust to the agreement.

A declaration of principles was signed between Bush and Nuri al-Maliki in December 2007.

The declaration was planned to be ratified on July 31, 2008 to be effective as of January 1, 2009.

The agreement could not be effective except after endorsement by the 275-member Iraqi parliament.