Monday, April 27, 2009

The pre-dawn raid and the non-binding 'binding' treaty

Iraq's prime minister demanded that American commanders turn soldiers responsible for a predawn raid on Sunday that left two dead over to Iraqi courts for possible trial, in a first test of the U.S.-Iraqi security pact concluded last year.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a statement calling the raid a "crime" and said it violated the terms of the security agreement, which requires the U.S. military to coordinate maneuvers with Iraqi counterparts.

The above is the opening to Charles Levinson and Nada Raad's "U.S. Raid Tests Iraq Security Pact" (Wall St. Journal). This is the raid noted last night in which two Iraqis killed. The Chicago Tribune notes it was a "predawn raid." In this morning's New York Times, Steven Lee Myers' "After a U.S. Raid: 2 Iraqis Dead, Protests and Regrets" repeatedly omits the term "dawn" and he repeatedly refers to the "security agreement" without identifying it as the Status Of Forces Agreement. [There are two security agreements between the US and Iraq, the SOFA -- the one Rod Nordland's covering in the paper's other Iraq story this morning -- is the one which applies here. As CNN notes, "Al-Maliki's accusation that the United States violated the security pact is the first time the Iraqi government has claimed a breach in the deal that governs the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. It was reached last November and implemented in January." Click here to read the Status Of Forces Agreement which the White House made public Thanksgiving evening 2008.]. Myers does tell readers the target of the raid was Ahmed Abdul Sada and that the woman who died, Azhar, was his wife and the man who died, Khalid, was his brother. Myers states the US military released the ones arrested but leaves out the fact that the Iraqi government demanded the ones arrested be released. Ernesto Londono and Zaid Sabah's "Deaths in U.S. Raid Elicit Anger in Iraq" (Washington Post):

The incident marked the first time Iraq's government has called for the prosecution of U.S. soldiers and sets the stage for a showdown between the two countries at a time when sectarian violence appears to be spiking.
Since the implementation this year of a bilateral security agreement, U.S. forces have been barred from conducting unilateral operations and can no longer detain Iraqis for long periods. The agreement says American forces can be prosecuted in Iraqi courtrooms for grave, premeditated crimes committed off base and off duty -- criteria that U.S. officials have said effectively means American soldiers will never face Iraqi justice.

Corinne Reilly and Hussein Kadhim's "Iraqi government claims U.S. raid violated agreement" (McClatchy Newspapers) add of the raid:

"There was no approval given," said Col. Shawqat al Alusi, an Iraqi army spokesman. He said that a U.S. military commander had apologized to Iraqi authorities for failing to obtain their permission.
The U.S. commander told Iraqi officials he thought the unit that conducted the raid had received approval and that a misunderstanding was to blame, Alusi said.
Speaking by phone from Kut, Alusi added that the six who were arrested already have been released. Maliki has ordered an investigation into the matter, he said.
Alusi couldn't provide the name of the American commander who he said apologized. A U.S. military spokesman said in an e-mail that he couldn't comment on Alusi's statements or confirm that the men who were arrested have been released.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Hard Work" went up yesterday.

Remember that Cliff Cornell is court-martialed tomorrow at Fort Stewart in Georgia.

Cliff Cornell

Illustration by Kat, Betty's three kids and Wally, and used in Third's "Cliff Cornell faces court-martial on Tuesday" yesterday.

Today, Steven D. Green goes on trial: "The jury trial will commence on April 27, 2009, 9 a.m. (CDT) and will be held in the Paducah Division of the Western District of Kentucky, located at 501 Broadway, Paducah, Kentucky." Green is on trial for the gang-rape and and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi and the murders of her five-year-old sister and her parents. Green denies involvment. Soldiers already convicted of the War Crimes finger him as the ringleader, as the murderer of all four and as one of the gang-rapists. The others faced military courts because they were in the military. Green was discharged before the War Crimes were known.

And we'll close with this excerpt from Mark Kukis' "Will Shi'ite Militias Seek Revenge in Iraq?" (Time magazine):

Abu Zaid, a Shi'ite in the Mahdi Army militia led by Moqtada al-Sadr, says he is simply waiting for word on whether to fight again.
With a series of bombing attacks against Shi'ites leaving at least 150 people dead in recent days, many Iraqis have wondered whether the Mahdi Army will continue to stand down or renew death squad killings as they did when sectarian violence raged out of control for more than a year beginning in 2006. Zaid and others associated with Sadr say that for now the militia is effectively dormant. "The Mahdi Army is off the streets by order of the Sadr himself," says Zaid, who spoke to TIME in Najaf and pointed to a standing unilateral cease-fire declared by Sadr roughly a year ago. "If he orders us to go back, we are ready. If he does not, any one of us who goes into the streets carrying weapons, we consider them an enemy." (TIME goes behind the scenes with President Barack Obama in Iraq)

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