25 November 2008

Regarding a SOFA, and not the kind you sit on

During the last month, there's been much talk about a proposed agreement between the US and Iraq regarding the Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA), with a referendum on the table (expected to be voted on next week) which could potentially call for the removal of US forces from cities by July of 2009, and a complete withdrawal by December 31, 2011. It's a remarkable turn of events in a war filled with unexpected twists and turns, but it still leaves challenges for the ethnic splits in the country. From the Christian Science Monitor:

Most critical for further political stability is a US military presence during this January's provincial elections, and then for important national elections in December 2009. The latter will help cement the Sunni minority's political stake in Iraq's democracy.

Pressure to approve the pact is driven by the Dec. 31, 2009 expiration of the UN mandate for the US-led occupation. A raucous, televised debate in parliament over ratifying the pact reveals just how much Sunnis still expect of a Shiite-led government.

While the agreement could pass with only pro-government lawmakers, Iraq's future would be more secure if a broad consensus were reached. That may require side-deals by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to further accommodate Sunni demands, such as more representation in government.

US pressure is still needed to help the Sunnis and Kurds find a larger role and resolve difficult problems, such as control of the ethnically divided city of Kirkuk.

But if the pact is approved, it will signify that Iraq is on an equal footing with the US, claiming sovereignty, independence, and a clear rejection of terrorism.

While this rebirth may not ring with historic drama as a decisive military battle might, it signals the blossoming of a religiously tolerant and democratic Muslim state in a region that could use such a model of "soft power." For that, the US effort may have been worth it despite post-invasion mistakes.


SunJun said...

I think it reinforces my belief that the merits and flaws of the Iraq War aren't going to be known for a couple decades minimum. There's still too much emotion and too many things in the air to make a final call on whether the effort is a net positive or negative for the region. Here's hoping for the best.

[ vaughn ] said...

SunJun, In my opinion, I feel that so far it would be a net negative for the united states.

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