SOFA

The Iraqi Cabinet has approved a status of forces agreement with the United States:

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi cabinet voted overwhelmingly Sunday to approve the security agreement that sets the conditions for the Americans’ continued presence in Iraq from Jan. 1 until the end of 2011.

All but one of the 28 cabinet ministers who attended the two-and-a-half-hour session voted for the agreement and sent it to Parliament for consideration, a huge relief to the United States, which had been in intense negotiations with the Iraqis for nearly a year.

The United Nations Security Council resolution that allows U.S. troops to operate in Iraq expires Dec. 31, and, without an extension of the resolution or a separate agreement with the Iraqis like that approved by the cabinet on Sunday, forces of the U.S.-led coalition would have no legal mandate to operate.

But now they will, pending approval by the Iraqi Parliament which I suspect is largely a formality.

Terms of the agreement include:

  • American forces will vacate Iraqi cities and towns by summer 2009.
  • American forces will vacate Iraq by the end of 2011.
  • U.S. soldiers are still guaranteed immunity except in cases of serious felonies committed while off duty outside their bases.

Overall I’m satisfied with this agreement for a number of reasons. First, it’s certainly no open-ended lapdog agreement. The Iraqi government has asserted its sovereignty while insuring a roadmap for assuming responsibility for the country’s security within a reasonable and foreseeable timeframe. The map above shows the status of the provinces of Iraq. In those in yellow security still remains under the control of Coalition forces. I think it’s reasonable to expect that by summer of 2009 all of the provinces will have been turned over to Iraqi responsibility.

Second, U. S. interests, both in our soldiers and in Iraqi and regional security, are reasonably secured.

Note that this agreement goes beyond what President-Elect Obama has said he’ll do. Facts on the ground have outrun U. S. politics, giving him justification for what he’s promised and more.

I opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but also opposed removing U. S. forces from the country until things were more stable than they were in, say, spring of 2007 both for humanitarian reasons and to preserve greater U. S. interests in the region. As I see it this agreement is a confirmation that the situation in Iraq has become stable enough that removing our forces from the country can reasonably be contemplated.

FILED UNDER: General,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. “The Iraqi Cabinet has approved a status of forces agreement with the United States.” http://is.gd/7LLp retweet @drjjoyner

  2. Michael says:

    Note that this agreement goes beyond what President-Elect Obama has said he’ll do. Facts on the ground have outrun U. S. politics, giving him justification for what he’s promised and more.

    I’m sure apologies for accusations of surrender and wanting to lose the war to win an election will be forthcoming. I’m sure of it.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    Since I never made such accusations, there’ll be no apologies coming from me.

  4. Michael says:

    Since I never made such accusations, there’ll be no apologies coming from me.

    Alas you’re one of the few people around here who would.

  5. Brett says:

    Are our regional security interests secured? The original US plan by Bush was to happen many bases in Iraq, as part of a greater effort in conjunction with the Sunni powers to contain and deter Iran. With this agreement, we’ll be out by 2011 (barring a total, massive catastrophe on the Iraqi government’s part) – and barring major problems, the US role in Iraq will be almost over after mid-2009, when our soldiers pull out of the cities and towns (which is a nice way of saying that they are getting removed from any areas of action).

    So what, exactly did we get out of this whole enterprise? My prediction is that, at best, Iraq will be a neutral player dealing with both the US and Iran, since many of the Shi’ite political parties have ties to Iran, while at the same time Iraq is going to need US military hardware and probably financial aid.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Are our regional security interests secured?

    I am emphatically not arguing that the whole adventure in Iraq was worth it. I’m just saying that we’re better off than if we had left in 2007.

  7. tom p says:

    I am emphatically not arguing that the whole adventure in Iraq was worth it. I’m just saying that we’re better off than if we had left in 2007.

    Dave, but are we?

    As I posted over at glittering eye:

    “I was against the war from the beginning, and I was against the Surge as well, but not for the same reasons. I was against the war because #1, we already had one going, #2, I saw nothing to indicate that Saddam could not continue to be contained by other means, #3, the laws of unintended consequences. I was against the Surge simply because I didn’t think it would work. So far, I am still more right than wrong (remember the “Benchmarks”?).

    Still, I am happy to say that I have been proven to be at least partially wrong. The Surge, in conjunction with the An-bar Awakening and the al Sadr ceasefire have provided a measure of security to the Iraqi’s that less than 2 years ago seemed a pipe dream. They have been given an opportunity. Time will tell what they will do with it.

    Time will tell, if it was worth it.”

    Time, indeed, will tell if it was worth it.

  8. G.A.Phillips says:

    Time, indeed, will tell if it was worth it
    ya time is gonna tell of the 50 million slaves that were freed regardless of the absolute undermining of or valiant troops and how much it hurt our war effort by the leadership of the left and their angry foolish little rewriting of history as it happens for what ever their petty little ambitions were, I am so happy that these malcontents have not had their way and left our troops without funding on the battle field.

    You know I hope I live to see the real history, that tells how the propaganda that was given to our enemies prolonged the war and how many more lives it cost.

  9. Kathy says:

    I opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but also opposed removing U. S. forces from the country until things were more stable than they were in, say, spring of 2007 both for humanitarian reasons and to preserve greater U. S. interests in the region. As I see it this agreement is a confirmation that the situation in Iraq has become stable enough that removing our forces from the country can reasonably be contemplated.

    I agree that it’s a good agreement, and definitely more in line with what Obama committed to in the campaign than with what McCain promised if he won election (indefinite U.S. troop presence in Iraq, for as long as 100 years).

    However, having said that, although I don’t doubt your sincerity when you say that you supported staying in Iraq once we were there “for humanitarian reasons,” the reality is that the invasion, war, and occupation have created a humanitarian catastrophe that, sad to say, has not gone away and will not go away by 2011 or anytime soon — if ever. About 4.5 million Iraqis have been displaced, at least half of them outside Iraq. And most of them will never go back to Iraq or see their homes again.

    What I can guarantee, however, is that very, very little ink will be spilled in the U.S. media about those Iraqis. In fact, they don’t exist.

  10. Bill says:

    What I can guarantee, however, is that very, very little ink will be spilled in the U.S. media about those Iraqis. In fact, they don’t exist.

    Just as they didn’t exist under the Hussein regime, as they were slaughtered while he was “contained.”

    Dave, but are we?

    Yes, vastly. Because Iraq would have devolved into blood soaked chaos that would have made 2006 look like summer camp if the US would have withdrawn at that time. In fact, calls for disengagement at the absolute worst point were misinformed and irresponsible, though no one is immune to making mistakes about Iraq.

    I’m sure apologies for accusations of surrender and wanting to lose the war to win an election will be forthcoming. I’m sure of it.

    I’ll make the accusation, at least as far as pointing out that holding Obama to his word at points in his rhetoric would have constituted de facto surrender to AQI. Obama’s position may have morphed into realism after fortuitous events, but anyone pretending that his positions have been anything other than simple, cynical, often incoherent positioning as “anti-Bush,” rather than a product of some prescient, responsible analysis … well, that person would be kidding themself.

  11. Kathy says:

    Just as they didn’t exist under the Hussein regime, as they were slaughtered while he was “contained.”

    Or while he was our friend, which is actually when most of his genocidal activity (as against the Kurds) took place.

    And now, 4.5 million refugees and at least 100,000 Iraqi noncombatants killed because of what *we* did.

  12. Brett says:

    You know I hope I live to see the real history, that tells how the propaganda that was given to our enemies prolonged the war and how many more lives it cost.

    You mean as opposed to how the Bush Administration royally screwed up an occupation and reconstruction by removing the most qualified Arabists and individuals with regards to the region because it didn’t think they were “on board”, replacing them with twenties-age political appointees whose main qualifications were that they were politically connected to the Bush Administration? Or how Bush and his generals ignored decades worth of counter-insurgency knowledge about how you need to protect the population in favor of “helping the Iraqis help themselves” because they didn’t want to commit any more troops?

  13. tom p says:

    Time, indeed, will tell if it was worth it

    GA, GA…

    You know I hope I live to see the real history.

    Some of us have lived the “real history”, some of us have watched mother’s and brother’s bury their children and their siblings, children who we watched grow up, get shipped off 10,000 miles away, only to come back in a box. I know Jimmy thought it was worth it… And I only hope he was right.

    Time will tell.

  14. tom p says:

    and just in case you still don’t get it, I knew Jimmy Summers. He thought he was making a difference. He was killed (IED) on Memorial Day, 2007, while on a rescue mission in Iraq.

    I only pray that his sacrifice pays true dividends for the people he gave his life for.