5 years, 5 months ago
In Standing up the Iraqi Army, we made the case that the state of the Iraqi army necessitated the long term presence of U.S. forces in order to protect Iraqi borders and ensure national sovereignty. The U.N. recently extended the security agreement for U.S. forces in Iraq through the end of 2008.
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq for one year, a move that Iraq’s prime minister said would be his nation’s “final request” for help.
Authorization for the 160,000-strong multinational force was extended until the end of 2008 because “the threat in Iraq continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security,” according to the resolution.
Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Hamid Al Bayati called it a historic day for the country because the council renewed the mandate “for the last time” after long and hard negotiation. He expressed hope that the council would deal with Iraq without any military authorizations after 2008.
“We realize that Iraq still needs more time and intensive efforts to enable our armed forces to take over the security responsibilities all over Iraq from the multinational forces,” he said, noting that Iraqi forces took responsibility for Basra two days ago and now control nine provinces.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad formally introduced the resolution Tuesday afternoon and soon after the council met to approve it.
After the 15-0 vote, Khalilzad cited “positive developments in Iraq” including reduced violence. He welcomed the council’s support for the Iraqi government’s desire “to sustain this momentum” and keep the force in the country.
The resolution requires a review of the mandate at the request of the Iraqi government or by June 15, 2008. It reiterates a provision of past resolutions that the council “will terminate this mandate earlier” if Iraq requests that.
It also says the Security Council would have to consider Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s request, in a letter on Dec. 7 to the Security Council’s president, that “this is to be the final request … for the extension of the mandate” for the U.S.-led force.
Asked whether the United States wanted to keep the door open to maintaining its troops in Iraq longer, Khalilzad said the extension is at the request of the Iraqi government “representing the will of the Iraqi people.”
“We hope that … with progress in Iraqi security capabilities that Iraq’s goal of self-reliance can be achieved as soon as possible,” he said.
Permanent bases have seemingly been rejected by the Iraq national security advisor. “We need the United States in our war against terrorism, we need them to guard our border sometimes, we need them for economic support and we need them for diplomatic and political support,” Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said. “But I say one thing, permanent forces or bases in Iraq for any foreign forces is a red line that cannot be accepted by any nationalist Iraqi,” he told Dubai-based al Arabiya television.
Strong words, these are. But the Kurds see things a little differently.
A top Iraqi Kurdish leader Tuesday said the Kurds want a deal with Washington that would protect their rights as well ensure long term American troops presence in the country.
On his arrival from a visit to Washington, Omar Fatah, deputy prime minister of Iraq’s northern Kurdish government, said they want a “strategic agreement with the Americans” similar to the one between Washington and Baghdad signed last month (editorial note: this refers to the Maliki agreement with and Iraqi cabinet approval of the petition before the U.N. referred to above).
That was for a long-term economic and political agreement that would also keep U.S. forces in Iraq beyond 2008.
“We expressed our pleasure about the agreement between Washington and Baghdad, ” said Fatah, adding Iraqi Kurds want a similar deal. “We want an agreement that would see that Kurds are not oppressed again,” he said, referring to atrocities committed by the former regime against them.
Fatah said during his visit he also told U.S. leaders the Kurds were in favor of a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq.
U.S. forces will be required long beyond 2008, and the Kurdish north is the likely beneficiary of the money and work that will flow as a result of this presence. Another benefit of this arrangement is the role that U.S. forces will play in regional stabilization.