Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Iraqi VP: US blackmailing Iraq over SOFA

Press TV reports:

The US military has threatened to halt vital services in Iraq if Baghdad refuses to sign a controversial US security pact with Washington.

In addition to halting all military actions, US forces would cease activities that support Iraq's economy, educational sector and other areas- 'everything' - Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq'sVice President told the US newspaper McClatchy.

According to al-Hashemi, many Iraqi politicians view the move as 'political blackmail'.

Hashemi went on to say that Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top US military commander in Iraq, had provided Iraqi officials with a three-page list of the services which would be suspended if Iraq did not sign the so-called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

The Iraqi Vice President said the threat 'caught Iraqi leaders by surprise'. "It was really shocking for us," he said. "Many people view this attitude as a kind of blackmail."

According to the US daily, US Embassy officials have confirmed that a lengthy list has been handed over to the Iraqi government.

The newspaper added that the services the US provides include protection of Iraq's principal borders, its oil exports, shipping through the Arvand Rud (Shatt al-Arab) and all air traffic control over Iraq.

Washington has been pushing for the signing of the security pact which would grant the US the right to set up military bases inside the country.

The controversial treaty, however, has sparked outrage among Iraq's political and religious leaders who consider the agreement as a blatant infringement on the country's sovereignty.