Thursday, October 16, 2008

Timeline in Iraq and US security deal draft

With the UN mandate authorizing the presence of US soldiers in Iraq set to expire at the end of this year, the US and Iraq are coming closer to an agreement with a draft that now includes a timeline for withdrawal of American combat troops by 2011. Troops could stay longer if requested by the Iraqi government for security or training.

As part of our No Soldier Left Behind campaign this year, Peace Action West has pushed for a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq and Congressional oversight of any long-term security agreement with Iraq. The Bush administration has repeatedly refused to commit to a timeline, justifying staying in Iraq when things are going well on the ground and saying we need to stay when things are going badly. This summer, Bush modified his position and allowed for a vague "time horizon" for withdrawal of troops when Iraqi leaders objected to the indefinite US military presence that Bush originally proposed.

The timeline was not the only issue up for negotiation. According to the Associated Press,

During months of negotiations, which began early this year, the most difficult issue proved to be the question of who would try American soldiers and Pentagon contractors for offenses such as the killing of Iraqi civilians.

U.S. negotiators demanded exclusive jurisdiction over all soldiers and contractors, presumably to protect them from politically motivated charges. But Iraq insisted on a role to convince the public that Iraqis — and not Americans — are in charge of their country.

Under the compromise, the U.S. would have the primary right to try troops and Pentagon contractors for alleged offenses committed on American bases or during military operations, the officials said....

But Iraq would have first crack at trying U.S. military personnel and contractors for major, premeditated crimes allegedly committed outside American bases and when they are not on an authorized mission, the officials said.

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