I didn’t even begin to touch on the machinations of the accord the US is trying to draw up with Iraq, although I have mentioned some of the coercion they’re using to get Iraq to accept. It really is about Iraqi sovereignty, as the Iraqis claim and about American hegemony in the area which is not so widely claimed. Besides wanting to establish between fifty to sixty permanent US military bases in Iraq, more than double the number presently there, the American government also wants to be able to determine if a hostile act from another country is aggression against Iraq, control over Iraqi air space up to 30,000 feet and immunity from prosecution for U.S. troops and private military contractors.
Some of these points have been rejected by the Iraqis before, notably immunity for private military contractors, but Iraqis have always been appeased and the issue settled to the satisfaction of both parties. The language of the accord being considered also mentions the ability for the US to determine who is an aggressor against Iraq which leads some to think the US is aiming at Iran and that’s something the Shi’iah dominated Iraqi government doesn’t want! With sixty military bases scattered throughout Iraq any provocation or casus belli could be construed as an act of war. Keep in mind the US has been trying to convince the public that the Iranians are responsible for the insurgency movement especially in the south of Iraq, but such claims under closer scrutiny have usually turned out to be uncorroborated.
Finally, the Iraqi government has gone on record about this dispute and for now it’s a resounding no! They have even gone so far as to say they want the US out of Iraq and that they’re prepared to go it alone. We’ve heard such talk before and it will probably turn into nothing, as far as the Iraqi government is concerned. However, there is this interesting little sidebar.
Hardline Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr will set up a new force to battle US troops.”We will not stop resisting the occupation until liberation or martyrdom,” Sadr told his more than 60,000-strong Mahdi Army militia.
The fight against US troops will now be waged only by the new group, while other members will “take on a social and religious role,” Sadr said in a statement which was read out at mosques in the holy Shi’ite town of Kufa.
The announcement came amid controversy in Iraq and in neighbouring Iran over negotiations between Baghdad and Washington for a new pact to cover the US military presence when a UN mandate expires at the end of the year.
Juan Cole seems to suggest Sadr’s army numbers in the millions and with that the case the potential could be devastating for the future of Iraq.