US-Iraq Agreement - the Winner and the Loser: Trend News Commentator

Trend Middle East Desk Commentator Ulviya Sadigova

US-Iraq security agreement, known as SOFA, can place basis to the new political relations of the USA and Middle East.

Ratifying this document, which will allow Americans to be present in the military life of the region for more three years, the Iraqi Parliament determined not only internal policy of the country, but also foreign relations of Arab states with the neighboring countries with the mediation of the USA.

"If to consider the benefit of this agreement for Iraq, then undoubtedly, many items are positive, for example, forming national security forces and prohibit Americans to carry out military operations in the Iraqi cities. Thus, the Iraqi Government will take control on such large Iraqi cities as Kirkuk, Suleymaniya, Basra and Mosul, which during five-year war were the centers of resistance to the American presence.

Probability that the radical groups, especially religious groups, will go to the dialogue with the Government, it is great, indeed here are considered the national interests of Iraq, which the USA could not consider during the entire war, for example, reconciliation between the religious communities of the country, and also final solution of the question of status of Kurdish autonomy.

Despite that the Government of Iraq heads the representatives of Kurdish nationality, the President of the country, Jalal Talabani, Kurd by origin, declared that he will not allow division of Iraq in small provinces.

"If today the Kurds declare the desire to be separated from the center in Baghdad, then tomorrow other peoples of Iraq will wish this as well, for example, Turkmens and Assyrians. Thus, united Iraq will not exit," Iraqi MP Fevzi Ekremoglu, told Trend .  

Other key item for Baghdad is the right of the Iraqi Government to arrest American soldiers and citizens, who committed crime in the territory of Iraq. If formerly the military structures of the country did not have authorities to judge foreign citizens, then after the adoption of agreement, hardly Americans can command Iraqi prisons.

Their "democratic" attitude towards Iraqi prisoners in the prison of Abu-Gurey became known after dissemination of the video recordings in the world media outlets three years ago, which demonstrated humiliation over the Iraqi prisoners. So it remained unclear what decision the American military tribunal made with respect to the guilty persons.

After the adoption of the international document, the USA, which is the stronghold of democracy in the world, will unlikely violate this key item.

And if the benefit for Iraq can be summed up as the formation of the national security and defense forces, then the new Administration of Barack Obama can quietly solve other foreign policy problems of the USA. Last two years showed that George Bush does not know how to complete American scenario in Iraq. They did not find the weapons of mass destruction, which were the reason for war in 2003, but all religious movements awoke in Iraq, whose activity was frozen in the period of the governance of Saddam Hussein, known with dictatorial policy.

Shiite movements, the brightest of which is the movement of Muktada Al-Sadr "Army Mahdi", attempted to use political chaos in the country for coming to power, what they could only dream in the period of Saddam.

The difference in the policy of the congress of the USA and the White House with regards to the military campaign in Iraq appeared especially when the majority of the senators this spring refused to provide additional finance for the American soldiers in Iraq, and to also send additional military contingent.

Meanwhile differences with Tehran, which supports and sponsors Iraqi Shiahs, aggravate. Therefore, Bush makes the only right step during the five years of war - he suggests a security agreement taking into account interests of all parties: Iraq will establish a national government and the United States half dead leaves the political games in Middle East, but preserving its last military and financial resources.

However, if we refer to common advantage of the agreement not only for Baghdad and Washington but the entire Middle East, so the main point will be not use of Iraqi territory as a base for the US to attack the neighbouring countries. But again we can see the influence of Tehran here. Iran striving for complete control over the Middle East oil decided to direct the war in Iraq to an appropriate course, rendering material assistance to Iraqi Shiahs. Moreover, Washington-Tehran conflict around Iran's nuclear program is just about to develop into a new war in the region, but the US has no force for a new war. I mean there is a place to attack from - neighbouring Iraq, but there are no funds to wage a war. Anti-American reaction of Damascus, which seeks taking the position of Arab leader in Middle East, very affected inclusion of the item. Strong relations between Damascus and Tehran, which Syria always demonstrates, are a hint for the United States that Damascus is prepared to withstand new attack of the Americans.

So, the item on non-use of Iraqi territory to attack US foes - Syria and Iran, is undoubtedly a strike on the interests of the United States. Thus, Washington will first have to make it clear with Iran and Syria by diplomatic means, and only then to resort to military actions. Through, it will be difficult for Washington to launch another conflict in the Middle East after a bitter experience of an unsuccessful war in Iraq and a failure in Afghanistan.

But you can always find a negative among positives. Two issues not negotiate by Baghdad and Washington yet are Iraqi oil and control over Iraq's air space.  

It is still not clear who will manage Iraqi Air Force and the oil policy of the country which takes the third place in the world in terms of proven oil reserves (according to ВР, following Saudi Arabia and Iran Iraq's oil reserves total 115bln bbl, or 9.3% of the world reserves).

Despite of great oil reserves, Iraq has never enjoyed its profits. An international embargo was imposed on Iraqi oil before US military intervention and the country could not export its oil to international market. The war completely destroyed the fading oil market of Iraq. However, given ongoing global financial and energy crisis, the right for export of Iraqi oil remains very tempting.

The United States is unlikely to reject so fast the opportunity to control Iraqi oil and will pass it to Baghdad. It is not ruled out that US's closest ally - EU, can join this. Many large European oil giants, including British-Dutch RD/Shell, British BP, Norwegian Statoil, this summer stated their wish to open their offices in Iraq by 2010 until Americans stay in the country. But there is no discussion over power of the Iraqi government.

Thus, at least a year will pass after adoption of the security agreement to see the advantage of this important strategic document for the Iraqi people. Only mysterious policy of Baghdad and fulfilment of Obama's long-waited promises will show whether the document will be able to stop murder of civilians Iraqis, to solve mass unemployment, to top religious confrontations, to help Iraq return its international prestige, to stay beyond complete control of the United States.

The correspondent can be contacted at trend@trend.az

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