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Iraq Correspondent Patrick Cockburn on the US-Iraqi Clash Over the Status of US Troops
Thursday, June 12, 2008 :The Bush administration is leveraging tens of billions of dollars in seized Iraqi assets to force the Iraqi government to accept several demands in a long-term deal on keeping US troops in Iraq. The demands have included maintaining fifty-eight permanent military bases in Iraq, immunity for American troops and contractors, a free hand to conduct military operations without Iraqi approval and control of Iraqi airspace. We speak to journalist Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent, who broke the story last week.
Following an outcry by Iraqi lawmakers, the Bush administration is now offering limited concessions in its demands for a long-term “status of forces” agreement between Iraq and the United States.
The deal sought by the Bush administration, details of which were leaked to the press, were seen as a way of extending the US occupation of Iraq indefinitely. The demands included maintaining fifty-eight permanent military bases in Iraq, immunity for American troops and contractors, a free hand to conduct military operations without Iraqi approval and control of Iraqi airspace. According to the London Independent, the US is now lowering the number of bases it wants from 58 to “the low dozens” and says it is willing to compromise on legal immunity for foreign contractors.
The negotiations are being held before the UN mandate authorizing the US occupation expires at the end of the year. The Independent of London reported last week the US is leveraging tens of billions of dollars in seized Iraqi assets to push through its demands.
British journalist Patrick Cockburn broke this story last week. He is the Middle East correspondent for the London Independent and has reported from Iraq for many years now. He is the author of several books including “The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq” and his latest, “Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival and the Struggle for Iraq.”
Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the London Independent and author of several books. the latest is called Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival and the Struggle for Iraq.