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Sovereignty vs Hegemony

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The US/Iraq status-of-forces accord (SOFA) has proven to be an interesting match between Iraqi sovereignty and US hegemony.  The UN mandate allowing US troops to operate in Iraq is set to expire at the end of the year.  Without an accord being reached between the US and Iraq by that time, the US troops will essentially become illegal occupiers, which would severely limit their activities in the region.

In October Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki told the London Times that if no agreement was reached and the UN mandate was not renewed, “the U.S. forces will be confined to their bases and have to withdraw from Iraq.”

In May, the terms of the agreement became a matter of wide public discourse after many thousands of protesters in Iraq demanded that the agreement not be signed.  Protesting continued to escalate with tens of thousands protesting in October, including Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds.

Among the concessions now made by the US are a 2011 withdrawal date and the subjugation of US troops and private contractors such as Blackwater to Iraqi law.  The concessions, however, come with large loopholes that many parties want to see closed before they agree to move the agreement forward.

The US responded to Iraq’s misgivings by threatening to halt not only military actions, but also ending support for education services, economic support and other aid.  Iraqi Sunni Muslim vice president, Tariq al Hashimi, says many Iraqi’s view the threat as “a matter of blackmailing.”

Despite the threats, it appears that Iraq will not be signing the agreement before the UN mandate expires on Dec 31.

Sabah al-Nasseri, Professor of Political Science (Middle East Politics), and The Real News Network’s Senior Editor, Paul Jay discuss SOFA in the video below.

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Written by Aaron Nee

November 16, 2008 at 1:00 am

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