Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The treaty and the press

Maliki said the agreement was "a first step to regain Iraq's sovereignty completely within three years." The document sets a withdrawal deadline of Dec. 31, 2011, for American forces. It also says U.S. troops must leave cities and villages by July 2009 for more distant bases.
It is not clear that all 150,000 American troops will be gone in three years. "There is a provision for an extension by agreement of both sides," a senior U.S. official said this week, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The Iraqis could decide they see a continuing role for U.S. troops, he said. "They have every right to ask us for such a presence."
The role of U.S. troops in Iraqi cities after July may also be greater than the agreement implies. The details of the troops' activities would be worked out in negotiations between the Iraqi and American military, the senior official said.

The above is from Mary Beth Sheridan's "Maliki Defends U.S.-Iraq Deal To Public, Criticizes Opposition" (Washington Post) and she's addressing the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Song break!

I get the news I need on the weather report
I can gather all the news I need on the weather report
Hey, I've got nothing to do today but smile
Doh-n-doh-doh-n-doh-n-doh-doh and here I am,
The only living journalist in the Emerald City

Sheridan's the high point and we'll move to others reporting on the speech Nouri al-Maliki gave on TV yesterday -- no one notes that the US Embassy in Baghdad 'assisted' with the writing of that speech, how very strange. Reuters quotes this bit: "Truly, they (critics) want these foreign forces to stay in Iraq because their presence on Iraqi soil has become for them, consciously or unconsciously, a political manoeuvre."

We'll go to Tina Susman and focus on her take regarding politics on the ground since she's never reported accurately on the treaty itself. From "Iraq's Maliki defends security pact" (Los Angeles Times):

It is doubtful the pact's opponents could vote it down in parliament. Maliki's Shiite bloc and Kurdish parties, which back it, hold more than half the legislative seats. But Vice President Tariq Hashimi, a member of the Sunni bloc, is part of the three-man Presidency Council that must sign the bill into law if it passes, and he could veto the measure.
Even without a veto, trying to enforce the law without broad-based support, particularly from Sunni lawmakers, could intensify Iraq's political unrest. And Maliki risks a backlash against his bloc in long-awaited provincial elections, which his Cabinet on Tuesday set for Jan. 31.
In his brief address to his nation, Maliki appealed for understanding of his decision after months of negotiations to sign off on the deal, which requires all American troops to leave Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011. Combat troops are to withdraw from Iraqi cities, towns and village and move to distant bases by the end of next June.
"I will tell you, frankly, that we have some reservations over the agreement," he said. "At the same time, we see it as a solid introduction to restoring Iraq's sovereignty within three years."
Maliki described the pact as better than extending the U.N. mandate. "Our difficult option was to proceed with negotiations with the United States," Maliki said.

For those surprised by the "harsh" treatment Susman's received here, I'm not in the mood for liars about the treaty. We're avoiding one outlet except for bare minimum in the snapshot today due to their egregious lying today. Susman got included, the other didn't. First of all, there is support for renewing the UN mandate in Iraq. Obviously that's why al-Maliki won't do it. Remember, when he's not supposed to renew it, he does (and circumvents the Parliament and the Constitution). al-Maliki was attempting to sell the treaty and lying through his teeth repeatedly. Campbell Robertson's "Iraqi Premier Defends Security Accord" (New York Times)

In a culture deeply imbued with conspiracy, Mr. Maliki repeatedly vowed that there were no secret side agreements to the pact, the text of which was published in local newspapers on Tuesday.
Supporters of the agreement, including most Shiite and Kurdish legislators, are in a delicate position. While they say that they have the majority needed to succeed in Parliament, a simple mathematical victory is not enough; all acknowledge the need for widespread support.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq, who has advocated national unity consistently since the 2003 invasion, reiterated his insistence that the agreement draw support across sectarian lines.
"Any agreement that doesn't win national consensus," the statement read, "will not be acceptable and will be a reason for more suffering for Iraqis." Shiite lawmakers said that the ayatollah told them on Saturday that he found the final draft of the pact satisfactory, if not ideal, but that his condition of national consent must be met.

No side agreements! Honest! And look, we published the treaty Tuesday! Isn't that enough time for Iraqis to review it!

What a load of crap. Don't get your hopes up re: Sunni objection. Though Tariq Hashimi may veto it, talk of Sunni opposition in the Parliament itself isn't being taken seriously by the US State Dept which sees it as those politicians wanting to be sure to get their "cut of the take". It's common knowledge in Parliament that some members of the cabinet were 'rewarded' (bought off) for their support and friends with the State Dept tell me that Sunni objection in Parliament is nothing but an effort to ensure that the "palm greasing" continues. For that reason, we're not going to pay a great deal of attention to what Sunni lawmakers say this week*. The only real Sunni hope for the death of the treaty is that someone's greed isn't satisfied and they dig in their heels. AFP reports that Moqtada al-Sadr supporters (Shi'ites) banged on the tables to drown out Hassan al-Sined today as he attempted to read the treaty outloud to the Parliament. The moment was broadcast on TV (which quickly killed the feed) and Fala Shanshal has stated that guards of Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari beat up MP Ahmed al-Masaudi. The treaty is scheduled to be read to Parliament on Thursday when they reconvene.

We noted Michael Abramowitz' report yesterday that Barack would be shelving the cry for Senate approval (of the treaty). Raed Jarrar (Raed in the Middle) details how the transition site set up by Barack has already altered the position on Senate approval. Let's wait and see how long before such alleged champions of the Constitution Matty Rothschild and Katty van-van Heuvel speak out. (Chances are they'll both remain impotent and silent. Remember, the Constitution only matters when Democrats aren't in control with their kind.) [And, yes, Raed's post does back up Michael's reporting. And click here to go Raed's site for the translation of the treaty -- that will allow you to avoid a lying outlet which also offers a translation today. Song quoted is Paul Simon's "Only Living Boy in NYC," recorded by Simon & Garfunkel for Bridge Over Troubled Water.]

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[*Jim note: C.I. is not saying, "This is passing!" C.I. is repeating what friends with the State Department stated last night and this morning. A number of e-mails have come in along the lines of "So it will pass then" and that's not what's being said above. The State Dept thinks it will and thinks money is taking care of 'concerns.' They could be wrong. Having had the names of a number of Sunni MPs listed, C.I. made the decision not to make them the focus of this week's snapshots.]

 the washington post
 mary beth sheridan

the new york times

the los angeles times
tina susman