Editorial - "Tareeq Al-Shaab" (People's Path), the central organ of Iraqi CP
9 October 2008
Towards an integrated patriotic position to safeguard
the higher interests of the people and the homeland
The public opinion and political parties have paid, and continue to pay, special attention to the Iraq-US negotiations that are considering the fate of foreign troops, that are present in our country since the occupation in April 2003, and the relationship between Iraq and the United States. It will be recalled in this regard that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had signed with the U.S. President George W. Bush on November 25, 2008 "a declaration of principles on the long-term relationship of friendship and cooperation between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America," which was considered at the time as a general framework that paves the way for negotiations aimed to reach a bilateral agreement governing the relationship between the two countries on security, political, diplomatic, economic and cultural levels, to be completed before July 31, 2008.
It is known that Iraq had been placed, because of the dictatorial regime's policies and its external wars of aggression, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter according to Security Council Resolution 661 in August 1990, after considering the situation in Iraq at the time to be a threat to international peace and security.
After the fall of the dictatorial regime in April 9, 2003, the UN Security Council Resolution 1483 (May 2003) was adopted, which conferred international legitimacy on the occupation and its Authority. A subsequent resolution, UNSCR 1511(October 2003), stipulated the formation of the Multinational Force under a unified command, and the mandate of the latter was subsequently renewed in Resolutions 1637 (2005) and 1723 (2006). All these resolutions were issued under Chapter VII, on the basis that the situation in Iraq continued to be "a threat to international peace and security", thus requiring that Iraq remains under a kind of international trusteeship and with its sovereignty violated.
In addition to this, the mandate of the Multinational Force was automatically renewed, without coupling this renewal with a serious review of the role of these forces and regulating their presence and powers in accordance with a mechanism that is agreed upon between the Iraqi government and the United States. The latter was assigned by Resolution 1511 the task of being in charge of these forces and presenting periodical reports on their operation to the UN Security Council. This is despite the fact that Resolution 1546 (June 8, 2004) had stipulated the ending "officially" of the occupation and its Authority, and that the interim Iraqi government would take over its functions.
The UN Security Council issued, later on, Resolution 1790 on December 18, 2007, which extended the mandate of the Multinational Forces until December 31, 2008. The Security Council explained in that resolution that the Iraqi Government's request for an extension would be the last, with the hope of ending Iraq's subjugation to the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN Charter and enabling Iraq to restore its full normal status as a state enjoying full sovereignty and powers, and to regain its international legal status, i.e. its position before adopting UNSCR 661 in 1990.
According to various sources, the negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq began last February, and the pre-set date for their conclusion, 31st July 2008, has passed; yet no signs of a quick deal looms on the horizon. Statements from the two sides have continued, with contradictions and sometimes an optimism that does not match what has been reported about difficulties facing the negotiators.
Why have the negotiations been prolonged? What are the contentious issues? What does the Iraqi side want, and what does the American side want? What pressures are the Americans exerting? Are the frequent visits, and most recently Negroponte's visit, aimed at putting pressure? Why was the American response, to a number of issues raised by the Iraqi side, delayed? There remain many questions that need specific, accurate and official answers. However, the negotiations continue, until now, behind closed doors and under a blackout, with a lack of transparency generally prevailing. Here we are talking about the necessity of taking a public official position, instead of statements or leaks that fail to inform the citizens who are anxious to know the truth about what is going on and what is actually taking place.
The negotiations that are taking place are of a high degree of importance and sensitivity, now and in the future, and they ought to be characterised with full transparency, clarity and openness, informing the people firsthand about their details, and keeping the Parliament aware of how they are proceeding.
While negotiations are still continuing, despite some optimistic statements about an agreement being close between the two sides, we believe, along with other democratic and patriotic parties and forces, that the criterion for the legitimacy and acceptability of any agreement with any state is linked to the extent of its commitment to the higher interests of the people and the homeland, and to the rules of international law, and the guarantees under the UN Charter for the right of every people to freely choose their political, economic and social system. This is embodied in the need to respect the will of the people and their right to ensure full their sovereignty and independence, and non-interference in their internal affairs.
In the concrete case of Iraq, as we approach the end of the mandate of the Multinational Forces under Security Council Resolution 1790, the agreement to be held between Iraqi and American governments, so as to replace the status quo, must take into account and respect, in a clear and unambiguous manner, the unequivocal desire of the Iraqi people to regain their full sovereignty over their land, waters, airspace, wealth and resources, and to abolish the UN resolutions that violate and curtail this. Based on the above, we believe that the agreement must ensure:
- Avoiding the setting of open or hidden (or secret) conditions or restrictions that infringe the sovereignty of Iraq.
- Ending the presence of foreign and American troops, and defining a time scope for achieving this in accordance with a specific, progressive, schedule, that is linked to the rehabilitation of Iraqi forces and developing their efficiency, to enable them to take over fully the handling of security.
- A declared commitment not to establish permanent military presence or bases on Iraqi territory.
- A commitment not to make Iraqi territory a springboard for attack or interference in the affairs of neighbouring countries.
- Respect for the Iraqi law and will in the specified period during which the presence of American troops would continue. And rejecting the immunity demanded by the American side for its forces, or for security companies, or for other parties, and all associated movement or transfer of materials, whether on land or in the skies of Iraq. The emphasis here is on putting all this under the control and supervision of the Iraqi side and through coordination with it.
- A commitment to rid Iraq of Chapter VII and to ensure its normal return as an active member, enjoying full rights, of the international community.
- Helping Iraq to tackle the consequences of the occupation and military operations, and supporting it to rebuild its economy and institutions, and improve the services.
However, in connection with the above-mentioned, the Iraqi government has many factors that can contribute to strengthening its position if properly used. In the forefront of these factors is the will of the people who aspire to see their country free, fully independent and sovereign, and unfettered.
We realize that the national interests that can be achieved in the ongoing negotiations with the American side are subject, to a large extent, to the strength of the negotiating position of the Iraqi side and to the extent of the Iraqi government's success in creating the prerequisites to achieve a national consensus to rely upon in these negotiations. In this regard, we can only emphasize:
- The importance and the need for transparency, clarity, openness and informing the people about the negotiations and their progress, so as to strengthen the popular and political support for the positions to which the government declares it is committed and insists on. The media have to be properly used in this context.
- The government should strive to deepen national unity and consolidate the true meaning of national reconciliation.
- Acting to involve the various political parties, blocs, and representatives of the people, and to inform them of the stages and complexities of the negotiations.
- Seeking to create an appropriate political and security atmosphere, and to work to overcome the accumulated disagreements on various issues, including the need to tackle the state of estrangement between the federal government and the Kurdistan regional government.
- Proper use of the Arab, regional and international positions that seek peace and peaceful solutions that work against the foreign military presence, and to employ this in the interest of the position and demands of the Iraqi government. In this context, too, comes the possibility of making use of the struggle and competition in the US elections, and the positions of the American public opinion.
We look forward, along with our people, to ensuring that our country enjoys full sovereignty and independence, and to ending any foreign military presence on our territory, in whatever form and under whatever name.