Friday, 31 October 2008



October 30, 2008
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq wants a security agreement with the United States to include a clear ban on American troops using Iraqi territory to attack Iraq's neighbors, a government spokesman said yesterday, three days after a dramatic US raid on Syria.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the proposed amendment was among several forwarded to Washington, where President Bush said negotiators were analyzing them. "We obviously want to be helpful and constructive without undermining basic principles," Bush said.
Al-Dabbagh said the Iraqis want the right to declare the agreement null and void if the United States unilaterally attacks one of Iraq's neighbors.
US troops launched a daring daylight attack Sunday a few miles into Syrian territory, killing senior al Qaeda figure Abu Ghadiyah.
Al-Dabbagh said other amendments sought by the Iraqis include a clear definition of "duty" when cases arise involving crimes committed by American troops off base.
These GIs would be tried under Iraqi jurisdiction. The Iraqis also want to inspect all US military shipments entering or leaving Iraq. The agreement must be approved by the end of the year, or the US military would have to suspend all operations in Iraq.

Iraq plans to cut 2009 budget by $13 billion

Iraq plans to cut 2009 budget by $13 billion

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq plans to cut its 2009 draft budget to $67 billion in light of falling world oil prices, finance ministry officials said.
Iraqi authorities set the original draft budget last month at around $80 billion, based on expectations that the average price per barrel of oil would not drop below $80.
But prices have slipped sharply since summer highs. On Friday, oil for December delivery was down $1.44 to $64.52 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midmorning in Asia.
That drop has forced Iraq, which is dependent on oil revenues for more than 90 percent of its national capital budget, to revise its 2009 draft budget, Finance Ministry spokesman Adnan Abdul-Rahman said Friday.
A day earlier, Finance Minister Bayan Jabr said after a meeting with IMF officials in Amman, Jordan, that the ministry had decided to cut $13 billion from the planned 2009 budget.
"An agreement was reached to consider $67 billion as the 2009 budget instead of the recently set draft budget of $80 billion," he said in comments broadcast on Al-Sharqiya television.
Jabr said the revised budget is based on an assumed oil price of $62 per barrel, lower than the original estimate of $80.
He added that "many sectors" will be affected by the cuts, but did not specify.
Ministry spokesman Abdul-Rahman said officials were slated to meet Saturday to discuss the budget, but that it was not clear when a final draft would be ready.
Iraq is home to vast oil reserves with a proven 115 billion barrels. Its daily production stands near 2.4 million barrels a day.

Iraq gov't wants all US troops gone by end of 2011

Iraq gov't wants all US troops gone by end of 2011

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq wants to eliminate any chance U.S. forces will stay here after 2011 under a proposed security pact and to expand Iraqi legal jurisdiction over U.S. troops until then, a close ally of the prime minister said Thursday.
Those demands, which were presented to U.S. officials this week, could derail the deal — delivering a diplomatic blow to Washington in the final weeks of the Bush administration.
Failure to reach an agreement before year's end could force a suspension of American military operations, and U.S. commanders have been warning Iraqi officials that could endanger security improvements.
The current draft, hammered out in months of tortuous negotiations, would have U.S. soldiers leave Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011, unless the two governments agreed to an extension for training and supporting Iraqi security forces.
But Ali al-Adeeb, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's inner circle, said the government wants that possibility excluded by language adding finality to the end of 2011 date.
"The Iraqi side wants to remove any mention of a possible extension of U.S. troops, fearing that the existing clause might be subject to misinterpretation or could bear different interpretation," he told The Associated Press.
Otherwise, he said the U.S. might demand an extension "depending on their evaluation" of the security situation and the state of readiness within Iraq's army and police. U.S. officials have privately suggested 2012 is too early for Iraqi forces to be truly ready to maintain order.
The draft also gives Iraqi courts limited jurisdiction over U.S. troops, allowing them to be prosecuted by Iraqis only if they are accused of major crimes committed off post and off duty.
Al-Adeeb said the Iraqis want to add a provision for a joint U.S.-Iraqi committee to decide whether U.S. soldiers accused of such crimes were really on authorized missions.
Planning Minister Ali Baban, a Sunni, added that the Iraqis want jurisdiction over all U.S. soldiers and contractors unless they are carrying out joint military operations approved by Iraqis — a subtle but significant change to the draft that U.S. authorities may find unacceptable.
Iraqi officials have said the changes must be made in the draft agreement before it can be approved by parliament in time for the Dec. 31 expiration of a U.N. Security Council mandate under which coalition troops operate in Iraq.
Without an agreement or a new U.N. mandate, the U.S. military would have to suspend all operations in Iraq after that.
"We are waiting for a response from the U.S. negotiators on how much they can accommodate," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told CNN. "I think both sides here have reached the moment of truth. The time window is closing, and a decision has to be made as soon as possible."
But the Bush administration's hope to secure the deal while in office was fading with the new Iraqi demands, despite White House assurances that an agreement was still possible.
Al-Maliki, meanwhile, met with a leading Shiite politician late Thursday to discuss the deal. Government television quoted the prime minister as describing the agreement as a framework for the pullout of U.S. forces and the regulation of "their activities within the rest of the time they're here."
"We don't call it a security pact but an agreement to withdraw the troops and organize their activities during the period of their presence in Iraq," al-Maliki was quoted as saying.
U.S. officials in Washington refused to discuss possible alternatives to securing a deal, saying they were still reviewing Iraq's proposed amendments that were received Wednesday.
But officials bristled at suggestions the negotiations could be reopened and said the U.S. was not yet considering asking the Security Council to extend the U.N. mandate.
"Once we have something to say on it, we will," State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters in Washington. "But for the moment, we're just taking our time in reviewing it to make sure that we've got a good sense of what it is the Iraqis have put forward."
Privately, however, U.S. officials were growing pessimistic about chances for a deal. Failure to seal a deal with Iraqi politicians who owe their position to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion would be a huge embarrassment to President Bush, whose administration was largely defined by the war.
In Baghdad, U.S. military officials have urged the Iraqis to consider what could happen here if the U.S. suspended military operations, warning that the security gains won by the blood of American and Iraqi soldiers would be at risk.
Violence is down sharply after the Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq and the routing of Shiite militias in Baghdad and southern Iraq last spring.
But U.S. and other coalition forces also provide considerable help to Iraqi ministries in infrastructure and quality of life projects that would have to stop — along with control of the airspace and protection of Iraq's oil export facilities in the Persian Gulf.
"There's really no area that we as a coalition ... operate in that is not governed by legal authority," the U.S. military spokesman, Brig. Gen. David Perkins, told reporters.
He said the American military presence enables other international organizations, including the United Nations, and private groups to do their jobs.
"These things are all interrelated," Perkins said. "You pull one pillar out, you seriously degrade the efforts of others."

Iraqis hit back at US commander

Iraqis hit back at US commander


IRAQ. The Iraqi government has criticised US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen for warning of "major security losses" if Iraq does not pass a key security deal.
Ignoring the warning, Iraq's cabinet called for changes to the draft pact, which allows US forces to stay in Iraq after their mandate ends in December.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the admiral's remarks were an unwelcome source of "deep concern."
Reacting to Tuesday's warning from the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dabbagh said in a strongly worded statement that the "Iraqi government is deeply concerned by the statement of Admiral Michael Mullen".
"Such a statement is not welcomed by Iraq. All Iraqis and their political entities are aware of their responsibilities and are assessing whether to sign the deal or not in a way that it is suitable to them.
"It is not correct to force Iraqis into making a choice and it is not appropriate to talk with the Iraqis in this way."
Adm Mullen warned that Iraq risked security losses of "significant consequence" unless it approved the deal to keep American forces in Iraq beyond the end of the year.
He told AFP that Iraqi forces would "not be ready to provide for their security" before the expiration of the current UN mandate on 31 December.
"It's time for the Iraqis to make a decision," Admiral Mullen said.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates also warned of "dramatic consequences," saying the US would have to "basically stop doing anything" if there were no Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
Also addressing Admiral Mullen's remarks, Iraq's military spokesman Brigadier General Qassim Atta said Iraqi forces were ready to handle security across the country, noting that they already control 11 of Iraq's provinces.
Iraqi political leaders are demanding changes to a draft deal already agreed with Washington that would allow US forces to stay in Iraq until 2011. The current UN mandate for US-led coalition forces expires at the end of the year.

Source: BI-ME , Author: BI-ME staff

Iraqi CP: US forces alone are held responsible for cross-border raid into Syria

Iraqi CP: US forces alone are held responsible for cross-border raid into Syria

The Iraqi parliament, in its session held on Tuesday 28 September 2008, discussed the cross-border military operation into Syria carried out by US forces last Sunday.]
Earlier in the session, a member of parliament Abdul Karim al-Enzi pointed out that the raid caused a political crisis between Iraq and Syria, and that it was in contravention of Iraqi constitution. He called on the Iraqi government to provide an explanation for what happened during the operation.
Hamid Majeed Mousa, Iraqi Communist leader and member of parliament, stressed that the American forces alone are held responsible for the raid, because it did not respect the Iraqi constitution. He called on the parliament to shoulder its responsibility when it debates the security agreement to be signed with the American side.
Other members of parliament considered the US raid to be extremely sensitive and dangerous, and called for resolving the issue through diplomatic dialogue with Syria. Reference was made to the fact that UN Security Council resolution 1546 had given Multi-national Forces the authority to provide security for Iraq, and thus called for revising these resolutions to ensure a bigger role for the Iraqi government. Mahmoud Othman, Member of Parliament from the Kurdistan Alliance, suggested that the parliament should ask the government to conduct an investigation, supervised by the Arab League, into the raid.
Another MP, Shatha al-Mousawi, called on the parliament to endorse the security agreement with the US because it contains articles that prohibit the use of Iraqi territories to carry out aggression on neighbouring countries. Wa'il Abdul Latif said that no information was available about the US raid, and called for seeking an explanation from the Iraqi ministry of defence.

Source: news report in "Tareeq Al-Shaab" (People's Path), the central organ of the Iraqi Communist Party, 29-10-2008.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

No agreement could be signed with Britain before finalizing security deal - MP

No agreement could be signed with Britain before finalizing security deal - MP

October 23, 2008

BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: MP from the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) Haydar al-Abadi on Thursday said that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the British side of the impossibility of signing any security agreement with it before the controversial pact with Washington is finalized.

“Al-Maliki told the British side that Iraq will discuss the matter after finalizing the agreement with the U.S.,” al-Abadi told Aswat al-Iraq.

“The Iraqi vision highlights that there is no need for the presence of British forces in Iraq after the end of their authorization by the end of 2008,” he explained.

He dismissed any British mediation between the U.S. and the UIA to facilitate the approval of the security deal, describing such news as baseless.

The U.S. and Iraqi governments are currently negotiating a security pact that would regulate the presence of foreign troops in the country after 2008.

A declaration of principles was signed between U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in December 2007. The declaration was scheduled to be ratified on July 31, 2008 and to come into force as of January 1, 2009.

The agreement governs the presence of U.S. forces in the country after 2008 and will not come into force without the approval of the Iraqi Parliament

The current U.N. mandate for U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq expires on 31 December. About 144,000 of the 152,000 foreign troops deployed there are US military personnel.

The Iraqi government has publicly insisted on a clear timeline for withdrawal, and U.S. officials said the current draft included a timeline for U.S. withdrawal before the end of 2011.

It also wants to be able to prosecute U.S. troops if they commit crimes outside their bases while off duty or on unauthorized missions.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Communiqué - Meeting of Central Committee of Iraqi CP


Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party holds regular meeting

The Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party held a regular meeting on October 17, 2008.

The meeting dealt with the political situation and recent developments in the country, as well as the work of the party and its organizations, based on two reports; political and organizational, that were presented by the Political Bureau of the Central Committee.

Discussions of political developments focused on the issue of the security and military agreement with the United States and ongoing negotiations about it. The Central Committee meeting called for the publication of the latest draft text of the agreement, to inform the people and allow them to express their opinion through possible ways and means. The meeting also discussed the relationship between the federal government and the regional Kurdistan government, the changes in the landscape of political forces, the emerging new alignments, and related ramifications and many other relevant issues that need to be considered and tackled.

The meeting dealt with the issue of the forthcoming provincial elections, its importance and the need to seek to ensure wider popular participation and good preparation. It stressed the importance of preparing the party organizations, and all its comrades and supporters, to take part in these elections with dynamism, perseverance and a high democratic spirit to achieve the desired results.

The Central Committee meeting also reviewed the developments of the deepening global financial-economic crisis, which has revealed the harm and grave consequences of neo-liberal policies and ideology. It considered the possible ways that this crisis can impact our country, and how its consequences can be averted.

The meeting stressed the need to prepare for the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Iraqi Communist Party, on March 31, 2009, and the importance of drawing lessons from the history of struggle of the party and the patriotic movement, for its future work and striving relentlessly for "a Free Homeland and Prosperous People".

A more detailed statement will be issued later about the deliberations of the Central Committee and the conclusions it reached in relation to the issues in question.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Workers of Hilla Textiles Company Go on Strilke

Workers and Employees of Hilla Textiles Company Go on Strike

Hundreds of workers and employees of the Public Company of Textile Industries in Hilla organised a strike on 9 October 2008, and demonstrated outside the company. They called for improving their living conditions, and demanded the payment of their wages in accordance with the new salary pay scale No. 22 (2008), in addition to other demands.
The engineer Ghassan abdul-Amir Jassem, the director of engineering department in the factory, explained that they organised this demonstration "to demand their legitimate rights that have been endorsed by the Parliament, and which the Ministry of Finance did not implement."
He added that "the Labour Law and the working class had been marginalized during the former regime, and this marginalisation is still continuing. The Government must work to support the agriculture and industry because their are the pillars of economy."
Jassem pointed out that "all the departments have received the difference in wages except the employees of the Company in Hilla."
The memorandum issued by the strikers, which was addressed to the Governor of Hilla, called for "giving the workers what they are entitled to, in terms of the differences between wages for the period 1st January 2008 - 31 May 2008, in line with their colleagues in other ministries, in addition to danger allowances for being exposed to dangerous and arduous jobs." The memorandum also called for "covering the productive sections with the system of incentives and rewards, and speeding up the formation of a union."
The demonstration was attended by few members of Babil's Governorate (provincial) Council, in addition to Hassan Kadhem al-Salami, the deputy chairman of the General Federation of Workers' Unions in Babil, to express support for the strikers.

Source: "Tareeq Al-Shaab", the central organ of the Iraqi Communist Party (15-10-2008).

Iraqi CP .. Meeting in Baghdad on Global Financial Crisis

Meeting at Iraqi CP headquarters in Baghdad
about the Global Financial Crisis

Saleh Yassir, member of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party, presented an extensive analysis of the current global financial crisis at a meeting held on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at the party headquarters at Andulus Square in central Baghdad.
More than 200 people packed the hall to listen to a stimulating presentation of the political economy of the crisis, its causes and repercussions, as well as its principal characteristics compared with previous crises.
Comrade Yassir concluded that the crisis has marked the beginning of the end for neo-liberalism on several levels; economic, political and social. He pointed out that the global financial system will not return to what it was before, but will witness significant changes in terms of an end of the brutal chaos of globalised state monopoly financial capitalism, and towards interference by the State in controlling the financial markets of each state and on the global level.
Does the crisis mean the end of the capitalist system? Replying to this question, comrade Yassir said "No. The end of capitalism requires waging a social struggle and broad class alliances that would not evolve and develop in a short time."
A more extensive report of the meeting will be published later, according to "Tareeq Al-Shaab".

Source: "Tareeq Al-Shaab", the central organ of the Iraqi Communist Party (15-10-2008).

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Peasants demonstrate in Najaf

Peasants demonstrate in Najaf to demand
increase of purchase price of rice

Newsmatique / Najaf

Dozens of farmers and peasants in the province of Najaf took part today, Tuesday, in a peaceful demonstration to protest against their poor conditions and to demand more government support, particularly related to the purchase price of rice.
The demonstration started from the Al-Ishreen Square in the centre of the city and marched towards the provincial council building of Najaf. The protesters called for "an increase in the prices of agricultural crops, which the state buy from them at the end of the agricultural season every year," noting that "the prices are less than the real cost of production and therefore expose them to losses every season. "
The representative of the peasants' association in Najaf, Jabbar Hussein Khashan, said that "our demonstration is peaceful, to demand an increase in the purchase price of rice for this year."
Khashan added in an interview with Newsmatique that "the prices last year were at a reasonable level considering the cost of production and prices at the time. But they are no longer reasonable this year.”
He explained that "the price of a ton of seeds was 250 thousand Dinars last year, but has increased this year to 700 thousand Dinars. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture has distributed poor fertilizers this year, thus forcing the peasant to buy fertilizers from the market at a price of 350 thousand Dinars per 100 grams."
Khashan said that "if there is no response to our demands, we will go to Baghdad and demonstrate outside the Council of Ministers."
A peasant, Thamer Falah Kadhim, criticized what he regarded as "the neglect of peasants by the state and the marginalization of their role." He urged the government "to consider the plight of peasants", some of whom "are unable to provide food for their children due to lack of financial returns of farming."

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Iraqi CP leader .. about global financial crisis

Iraqi CP leader: Ongoing "Financial Quake" stems from nature of capitalist system

In an extensive interview with "Tareeq Al-Shaab", the central organ of the Iraqi Communist Party, published on 12 October 2008, the party leader Mr Hamid Majeed Mousa dealt with a number of pressing internal issues as well as major recent developments in the international arena. The following is an excerpt regarding the current world financial crisis:

Q: The heart of capitalism is now witnessing a financial crisis whose consequences are not yet fully borne out, both inside the US and outside. Can you give the readers of our newspaper your evaluation of what is going on?

A: What has happened, and is still going on, stems from the nature of the capitalist system that is characterized by the emergence of periodic crises, which the market system cannot avert before it disposes the working people and toilers of their dearest assets. These are crises that result in maximizing the wealth of the rich who have fixed assets and reduce to a minimum the purchasing power of consumers and wage earners. What has happened reflects, in concrete terms, the dominance of financial capital over the capitalist economy, as demonstrated by the inflation of the role of financial institutions and inflated financial circulation at the expense of the real productive economy.

According to the available facts, the financial circulation, which includes the assets of banks and financing institutions, insurance and stock markets, is three times what the real finance economy represents in the world. This means that two-thirds of the global economy is a shadow economy whose owners grab its profits from the productive economy, but through very complex and interrelated means, that ordinary citizens cannot grasp their mechanisms, secrets, complexity and repercussions.

The problem developed when the U.S. economy, the leader of the world capitalist economy, faced stagnation and crisis, and millions of people who got loans to build or purchase houses and real estate were unable to pay mortgage instalments due to the lack of adequate resources because of the stagnation of economy and the rise in interest rates. As a result, mortgage companies repossessed more than 10 million housing units. This led to a huge crisis in liquidity, with these institutions being unable to fulfil their financial obligations and pay back credits. Their failure to pay back debts led to many banks declaring bankruptcy.

This cascade of repercussions has led to a major crisis in the U.S. economy. And the consequences and results are continuing, and more will follow in the future.

Given globalisation and the role of the U.S. economy in the system of globalisation, the effects of the collapse of mortgage and insurance institutions and banks will not remain confined to the U.S. market, especially that it controls the global currency (the dollar). By virtue of dependency, and as a result of overlapping investments and economic ties, the waves of this quake, that has its centre in Washington, will cover other capitals. No state or economy will be spared.

Let me warn against what some Iraqi economic experts, or Central Bank staff, have been saying, that the Iraqi economy is immune to the economic shocks taking place in the world. How can this be the case when the cover for the Iraqi Dinar is mainly the U.S. dollar? How can this be true while the American market is one of the major importers of oil? How is it so when we rely on oil prices that have been affected by the hurricanes for the past two or three months?… and while we are mainly importing from American markets and other world markets? Yes, we shall certainly be affected. But we are still reaping the first waves, and we'll see what happens... We must work to reduce this loss. Those who attempt to belittle the danger of what is going on risk should think instead about reducing the negative effects of global shocks on the Iraqi economy, the Iraqi market and the Iraqi Dinar… instead of claiming that the American quake has no effect on the Iraqi economy.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Iraqi CP: About the Iraq-US Agreement

Iraqi Communist Party
Editorial - "Tareeq Al-Shaab" (People's Path), the central organ of Iraqi CP
9 October 2008

About the Iraq-US Agreement

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.
We are aware that the negotiations are taking place between two unequal sides, particularly in terms of the U.S. military presence on Iraqi territory. We are also aware that America will exert various pressures and will seek to exploit differences and conflicts between the political forces and blocs, and between the central government and the Kurdistan region, as well as resorting to wide use of the media and issuing repeated statements casting doubt about the policy of the Iraqi government and its ability to manage things and govern, and to talk about the security and military situation and its fragility. We also recognize that it will seek to employ all this to weaken the Iraqi negotiating delegation and undermine Iraq's position, in order to extract gains and pass an unfair and unbalanced agreement.
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.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Iraq and the next president

Iraq and the next president

People's Weekly World

October 9, 2008

With the widening economic crisis grabbing so much of our attention, ending our occupation of Iraq may be taking a back seat in some minds, but it will be a major, pressing issue for the next president.

Here's an under-reported development that fits very well with Barack Obama's pledge to start pulling troops out in a systematic way, with a view to ending our military role there, and with Obama's emphasis on a new foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy rather than military force:

The Boston Globe reports today that:

Members of a team that worked to produce a framework for political reconciliation in Iraq told a congressional subcommittee yesterday that the United States must involve the international community in further peace negotiations and allow Iraqis to take the central role in the process.

Representatives of South Africa's African National Congress, veterans of both sides of the bloody Northern Ireland conflict and others with experience in difficult national reconciliation told a committee chaired by Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) how they are working with Iraqi political leaders spanning the spectrum from Islamists and former Baathists to Communists, to move forward national reconciliation in Iraq. As with South Africa and Northern Ireland, such a process will be essential to bringing peace to Iraq. It will also be key to enabling Iraq to stand up to interference from the U.S., transnational corporations, etc.

A series of meetings involving all the Iraqi groups and the reconciliation experts over the past several months resulted in what's known as the Helsinki Agreement, signed by 37 Iraqi parties in Baghdad in July.

A useful commentary by Max Bergman of the liberal National Security Network calls attention to the significance of this process for Obama's vow that "we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in." Bergman draws the following conclusions:

1. Political reconciliation is not something that will happen over night.
2. The one thing Iraqis are united on is opposition to U.S. occupation.
3. In Iraq, political reconciliation will have to be largely self-reinforcing, as it is in Northern Ireland.

He says:
Iraqis are united in wanting us out. Maliki is driving such a hard bargain with us, because it is politically popular to oppose the U.S. presence. This matters because it potentially makes the U.S. not only a focus for potential violence from a nationalist backlash, but because reconciliation for Iraqis must be seen as a means by which to regain their sovereignty.
There is no military solution to building trust. Less violence helps, but even if people feel more secure or safe in their neighborhoods that does not mean that they will have any more trust in the intentions of their Sunni or Shia neighbors or politicians. Addressing this takes a long long long time and lots and lots of talks between political leaders and the process set up with Helsinki is an important first step. This process has to ramp up as troops begin to withdraw. Additionally, part of a withdrawal strategy has to attempt to get the countries in the region to play a constructive role in supporting political reconciliation.

The upshot, in his view?
A timetable for withdrawal is not just about moving troops out. It is also a negotiating timetable for Iraqis, as well as for Iraq's neighbors. While our military efforts decline, our diplomatic efforts will have to ramp up.

Iraq peace process must be international effort, US panel is told

Iraq peace process must be international effort, US panel is told

WASHINGTON - Members of a team that worked to produce a framework for political reconciliation in Iraq told a congressional subcommittee yesterday that the United States must involve the international community in further peace negotiations and allow Iraqis to take the central role in the process.

University of Massachusetts at Boston professor Padraig O'Malley, along with political leaders from South Africa and Northern Ireland who crafted agreements between warring factions during conflicts in their own countries, briefed the committee about a series of privately funded meetings they held to bring leaders of Iraqi political parties together.

The meetings culminated in the "Helsinki Agreement," signed by 37 Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July. The agreement outlines a broad set of principles to govern future negotiations between the factions.

"The principles and the mechanisms [in the agreement] are aimed at creating rules and at creating a platform so that the Iraqis can put their concrete grievances on the table and resolve it within the terms of those rules," said Mac Maharaj, who was part of the African National Congress negotiation team that helped South Africa transition from apartheid to a democratic government.

The Iraqi agreement - signed by key members of the majority Shi'ite and minority Sunni parties, along with politicians from Kurdish, Communist, and other parties - calls for disarming groups during negotiations and for reintegrating former members of Saddam Hussein's army into new institutions. It also professes a "commitment to limiting arms possession to the government."

Still, the political leaders cautioned that the agreement shouldn't be viewed as a solution, but as a platform to continue talks between the parties. Structures must be put in place to give "biting teeth" to the points outlined in the agreement, O'Malley said after the briefing.

Outsiders involved in future negotiations must talk to Iraqis to see what resources they will need to create an oversight system to carry out the commitments in the agreement, he said, "particularly as they apply to the disarmament of militias."

O'Malley, a veteran peacemaker who worked on reconciliation efforts in South Africa and Northern Ireland, said he believes it is important for the Iraqis to hear about the experiences of those whose countries were once divided by warring factions.

"Divided societies share certain behavioral characteristics," O'Malley said, explaining why he brought leaders from South Africa and Northern Ireland to share their experiences with Iraqis. "They identify with each other. They can bond in a way that they can't bond with people from more normal societies, and that should be recognized and more efforts made to broaden the table at which people from divided societies can sit together and help other people from divided societies."

O'Malley also advocated for limited government involvement in future talks.

Tufts University trustee Robert Bendetson, head of the furniture retailer Cabot House, funded the two meetings O'Malley held with Iraqi leaders in Finland last fall and this spring, as well as the Baghdad gathering.

"Our pledge to the Iraqis was that we were not involved with any government whatsoever and would not take money from any government," he said.

Representative William Delahunt, a Quincy Democrat who chaired the briefing, said he plans to visit Iraq, perhaps by the end of the year. He said he intends to speak with the Iraqis in the reconciliation meetings about what tools they need to continue negotiations - and what role they want the United States to play in future talks.

"I think the message is clear," Delahunt said after the briefing. "This is a decision to be made by the Iraqis, and, in fact, it's the responsibility of the Iraqis, and we have to recognize that the sovereignty of Iraq has to be respected."

© Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Interior Ministry ready to take over Baghdad's security

Interior Ministry ready to take over Baghdad's security

Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Wednesday , 08 /10 /2008

BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: Iraqi security forces will be able to take over Baghdad's security responsibilities from the U.S. military if a troop withdrawal is made, the director of the Interior Ministry's national operations center said on Wednesday.
"The Interior Ministry is truly capable of assuming Baghdad's security responsibilities. Car bombs, improvised explosive device blasts and criminal operations do not at all indicate failure on the part of the (Iraqi) security forces," according to a ministerial statement received by Aswat al-Iraq, quoting Staff Maj. Gen. Abdelkareem Khalaf, as saying.
"Prompt security measures have been taken to prevent similar operations in the city," Khalaf noted.
"Having an area of 86 square kilometers, it is impossible to cover the whole capital. Some criminals intend to detonate car bombs in unimportant and non-vital areas," Khalaf added.
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq and Baghdad province. With a municipal population estimated at 7,000,000, it is the largest city in Iraq. It is the second largest city in the Arab world (after Cairo) and the second largest city in southwest Asia (after Tehran).

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament: Tehran talks on security deal

Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament: Tehran talks on Iraq-US security agreement

Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Tuesday , 07 /10 /2008

TEHRAN / Aswat al-Iraq: Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, on Tuesday said that his current visit to Tehran will focus on the security agreement that is scheduled to take place between Iraq and the United States.
"The program of the visit is based on an exchange of views on the Iraqi-U.S. security agreement," Mashhadani said in an exclusive statement to Aswat al-Iraq following his arrival in Tehran.
Mashhadani pointed out that it is significant to know Iran's stance on the matter, arguing that it influences the national security of neighboring countries, with particular reference to Iraq.
"It is necessary to know their opinion before taking decisions, especially that negotiations are over…," Mashhadani added.
Earlier today, Mashhadani left for Tehran aboard an aircraft sent by the Iranian side to avoid problems that occurred on Monday, according to an Iraqi lawmaker.
On Monday, Iranian ambassador in Iraq Hassan Kadhemi Qomi offered an official apology to Mashhadani for the "technical reasons" behind Iran's refusing permission to let his plane land in Khomeini Airport in Tehran.
Mashhadani headed back home to Baghdad and postponed his scheduled official visit to Iran.
Iran insisted that Mashhadani was still welcome to visit.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Staffan de Mistura Urges Reinstating Article 50 in the Election Law

UN Special Representative for Iraq
Urges Reinstating Article 50 in the Election Law

Baghdad-2 October 2008-
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Iraq (SRSG) Staffan de Mistura said the United Nations is concerned at the extraction of Article 50 bearing on minority rights, from the provincial election law passed on 24 September 2008.

Mr. de Mistura said, “I was surprised and disappointed that Article 50 was not included in the provincial elections law.” He added, “Article 50 has the backing of minority groups, political blocs and UNAMI and should now be reinstated into the legislation as soon as possible so minorities can participate in the upcoming elections to be held sometime before 31 January 2009.”

The SRSG emphasized that protecting the minorities human rights in Iraq, is fundamental to a democratic Iraq. He said, “Article 50 is a strong indication Iraq is a nation ready to protect the political rights of minorities as founded in the Constitution.”

He reiterated that UNAMI will continue in its consultations with political leaders and minority groups to ensure that Article 50 can now be reintroduced into the Council of Representatives when they return after Eid al-Fitr, so the article can be passed as soon as possible.

He said that UNAMI shares the concern expressed by Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and other Iraqi leaders over the extraction, and calls on all political blocs to reintroduce Article 50 into the law, no later than 15 October, when the Independent High Electoral Commission opens candidate nomination.

Iraqis defy violence to celebrate Eid

Iraqis defy violence to celebrate Eid

The Financial Times

By Mary Beth Sheridan in Baghdad
Published: October 1 2008

Ever since the US-led invasion in 2003, Um Abdullah has kept her four children inside on holidays, terrified by the bombings and kidnappings that were tearing the country apart. But on Tuesday, she set out to reclaim her former life.

“We were like in a prison at home,” she said, sitting on the grass in a western Baghdad park, where revelers celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr were picnicking, whirling around a merry-go-round and dancing to the beat of a drum. “But now the situation is getting better — though it’s still not good.”

Violence in Iraq has dropped dramatically, with attacks down 83 per cent nationwide in the first three weeks of Ramadan, compared to the same period in 2007, according to US military figures.

But Baghdad residents know the bloodshed isn’t over. On Sunday five bombs blew up around the city, killing 32 people. Um Abdullah, who would not give her full name, said she was on the street where one of the cars exploded, but escaped injury.

“There is a kind of inner conflict,” the teacher explained, describing her mix of hope and fear about venturing out. Ultimately, she decided to take the risk and bring her children, aged 5 to 13, to the park.

“We should go outside,” she declared, “and live.”

The Zawra park was packed with hundreds of people like Um Abdullah, most enjoying the holiday in an open-air venue for the first time in years. Children sported pointy birthday-party-type hats and munched cotton candy. Teenage boys in T-shirts and jeans roller-bladed past women in their finest glittering headscarves.

In the park, you could almost forget the country’s violence — if it weren’t for the full-body patdown at the entrance, the Iraqi soldiers in bulletproof vests strolling near the Ferris wheel, the long coil of concertina wire around the perimeter.

The noisy park was just one sign of residents’ new, wary hope. Another was at the National Theatre, which had triumphantly announced it would hold the first nighttime performance since the invasion.

But just two hours before the 5pm curtain, a white Mitsubishi sedan packed with explosives blew up across the street from the theatre, killing three people and blasting a hole in the pavement. Police barricaded the street, and it appeared the much-heralded cultural event was off.

And then a small miracle occurred. Officials asked the police to re-open the street, and by curtain-time, dozens of theatre-goers had marched into the building, in defiance of the attackers.

“We cannot let the terrorists control us,” said Salam Mijbil, a theatre official. “This bombing is the wind of hate. We will resist this wind and not buckle.”

For their Eid celebrations, a few women even went out in public in knee-length skirts or without headscarves, just like they did in the days when the government of Saddam Hussein maintained a largely secular society. With the rise of religious parties and militias in recent years, most women now cover their hair and wear long robes or skirts.

“They’re not wearing the scarf because they feel safer,” said Um Ali, 53, a seamstress, who had accompanied her two teenage daughters to an ice-cream shop in the middle-class neighbourhood of Karradah. She also declined to give her full name.

But such boldness was rare. And for many, the hope brought by the decline in violence was overshadowed by the pain and suffering they have experienced.

Abu Muhammad, 52, a journalist, brought his wife, son and nephew to Zawra park. But most of their relatives had fled Iraq in recent years because of kidnapping threats and violence. Abu Muhammad said he doesn’t think it is safe enough for them to return.

“We can’t feel this is Eid,” he said. “It’s Eid when you’re with your family.”