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Negotiations continue over long-term US presence in Iraq
Sunday, July 13, 2008 :Negotiations are continuing between the Bush administration and the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the terms of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) governing the ongoing presence of US troops in Iraq. The two governments are also formulating the wording of a Strategic Framework agreement, which will detail a long-term military relationship involving some form of US defence guarantee to Iraq and, in return, access to bases and facilities.
The pacts are central to Iraq serving as an American client-state into the indefinite future. The aim of the 2003 invasion was not only to put the countrys oil and gas resources under US domination, but to establish a large military footprint in the heart of the Middle East. Over the past five years, the US military has spent billions of dollars on constructing massive bases in Iraq. Among the most geopolitically significant is the Balad airbase, 70 kilometres north of Baghdad. It has a garrison of some 25,000 military and civilian personnel, hosts hundreds of planes and helicopters and has two upgraded runways capable of landing heavy B-2 bombers.
Bush and Maliki agreed earlier this year to conclude a SOFA by July 31. The agreement would cover such issues as the role and rights of the US military after the present United Nations mandate expires on December 31. The UN resolution gave a veneer of legitimacy to the US occupation, allowing its forces unlimited access to Iraqi land, air and territorial waters, the right to detain Iraqi citizens and immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law.Read More