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Iraqis Protest Proposed Deal to Allow US Troops to Stay in Iraq Until 2011
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 :On Saturday, tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrated against the proposed Status of Forces Agreement, but US military chief Michael Mullen warned today that Iraq could risk “losses of significant consequence” if the deal is not approved quickly. We speak to Patrick Cockburn and Raed Jarrar.
The Iraqi cabinet is examining a controversial draft law that would allow US forces to stay in Iraq for three more years. US military chief Michael Mullen warned Tuesday that Iraq could risk “losses of significant consequence” if the deal is not approved quickly. The US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker also defended the deal Monday saying it QUOTE “fully restores Iraq’s sovereignty.”
But tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrated against the proposed Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA Saturday.
Under the draft agreement US soldiers would retain immunity from prosecution for all actions committed in combat and the US would retain all jurisdictions over its nationals’ actions except for actions committed “off-duty” and away from US bases.
Critics have dismissed the provision because US troops seldom leave their bases in Iraq unless on authorized missions. Iraqi and US negotiators are hoping to finalize agreement before a UN mandate expires this year.
Patrick Cockburn is the Middle East correspondent for the London Independent who has covered Iraq foor many years. He is the author of several books. His latest is “Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival and the Struggle for Iraq.” He just returned from Iraq a few days ago and he joins me now here in the firehouse studio.
Raed Jarrar is an Iraqi blogger and analyst and a consultant to the American Friends Service Committee’s Iraq program. He translated a leaked version of the proposed agreement, available on his website, “Raed in the Middle” dot blogspot dot com. He joins us now from Washington, DC.
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.
Raed Jarrar, Iraqi blogger, political analyst and architect. He is a consultant to the American Friends Service Committee’s Iraq program in Washington, D.C. He blogs at Raed in the MiddleLISTEN ONLINE