Saturday, November 29, 2008

Still opposition to SOFA agreement

This is from Juancole.

Even though there is still opposition to the SOFA there does not seem to be any increase in insurgency even the Sadr group. It remains to be seen how things will work out in practice. The Iraqi's still have little jurisdiction over troops or contractors when they commit crimes while on duty. I understood that the Iraqis did have the power to open mail but perhaps not.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that controversy continues to rage around the security pact, dividing communities against one another. The Association of Muslim Scholars condemned the Iraqi Islamic Party and other Sunni Arab parties for "selling Iraq" with their votes in its favor. Muqtada al-Sadr announced three days of mourning in protest against its enactment, but he did not order his supporters to engage in confrontation to overturn it, "in order to safeguard the unity of the country. One of the aides to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called it a "diminution" of Iraq's sovereignty.Muqtada asked his followers to mourn formally in mosques for three days, and to hold wakes (for all the world as though someone had died in the family). Muqtada all by himself will leave behind enough material to keep symbolic anthropologists busy for centuries. He sent out a statement expressing his "condolences" to Iraqis at this calamity, an agreement of abasement and humiliation. Hundreds of Sadrists managed to demonstrate after Friday prayers, despite strict security, and to burn American flags.In Karbala, an aide to Sistani, Sheikh Ahmad al-Safi, said he had two concerns. First, would the Iraqi government actually exercise sovereignty to the degree stipulated in the agreement? And, second, he regretted the lack of any guarantee that Iraq would be removed from Chapter 7 of the UN Charter (and thus regain its independence from the UNSC). He pointed out that as long as US troops were on Iraqi soil, the government in Baghdad would not be truly sovereign, since it could not inspect the mail of American residents of Iraq, and US troops retained freedom of movement. Ayatollah Muhammad al-Ya`qubi expressed his "disappointment" that the pact was enacted. (He is the spiritual leader of the Islamic Virtue Party or Fadhila, which is strong in Basra).The Bush administration finally released the official English text on Friday. Some parliamentarians have expressed fears that it is not exactly the same as the Arabic text.

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