Japan Press Weekly
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Withdrawal of U.S. forces is just the key to resolve Iraq issue
U.S.-Iraq talks on concluding an agreement on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq are stalled. The Bush administration has tried hard to force Iraq to accept its terms. But the Iraqi people are strongly opposed to the agreement because it would bring about additional difficulties for Iraq.
With the United States unable to find an exit to from the Iraq War, the agreement is intended to make it possible to wage a long-term war by perpetuating the stationing of U.S. forces in Iraq.
In Iraq, even Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who the Bush administration counts on, is asking the United States to set a time frame for the pullout of its forces from Iraq. Thus, virtually all political forces in Iraq are urging the United States to withdraw its forces.
The U.N. Security Council resolution that is considered to be the basis for the present U.S. military presence in Iraq will expire at the end of this year. The U.S. is pressing Iraq to sign the status of forces agreement that would take the place of the U.N. Security Council Resolution.
The agreement will give U.S. forces the freedom of operations, including the detention of Iraqis, and provide U.S. forces with 58 sites to be used for their stationing as well as the control of Iraqi airspace.
Contrary to the U.S. administrationfs public relations emphasizing that it will be an agreement between sovereign nations, the agreement will keep Iraq under U.S. occupation and even turn Iraq into a stepping-stone for U.S. interventionist wars against other countries.
In June, thirty-one members of the majority group of Iraqfs parliament sent a letter to the U.S. Congress saying that they firmly reject any agreement with the U.S. that does not provide a set time frame requiring the U.S. occupation forces to withdraw completely from Iraq.
In negotiations with Maliki, who knows that Iraqi people are strongly opposed to the agreement, the United States have been compelled to make some concessions to give up on the demand that private security company personnel be granted immunity from prosecution. However, with the United States firmly refusing to present a set time frame for the withdrawal, the agreement goes against Iraqfs call for the restoration of sovereignty.
Prime Minister Malikifs reluctance shocked the United States because he had been considered compliant. On July 7, Maliki for the first time suggested that a time frame for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq must be decided before anything else. It is believed that he stated this with a general election for the Iraqi parliament in 2009 in mind. Maliki called on the United States to exchange notes concerning the present situations since it is difficult to conclude a long-term SOFA at this time.
Though details of bilateral negotiations are not clear, the initial U.S. plan to complete the SOFA deal by the end of July will suffer a setback. Observers are expecting that the bilateral agreement will be a gstopgap measureh in order to fill the vacuum that would be created after the expiration of the U.N. Security Council resolution and that negotiations with Iraq will be left to the next U.S. administration.
All this shows that an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, invading forces, is the key to solving problems faced by Iraq.
Withdraw Self-Defense Forces from Iraq
One of the members of the Iraqi parliament who visited the United States with a letter signed by fellow members stated that a SOFA should not be concluded while Iraq is held at gunpoint by foreign troops stationed in Iraq. The lawmaker also insisted that the presence of U.S. forces constitutes an obstacle to the national reconciliation of Iraq, the main issue today for the country.
The Japanese government is exploring the possibility of signing with Iraq a SOFA with Iraq in order to continue dispatching the Air Self-Defense Force to meet U.S. requests. Further dispatch of the ASDF will only hamper peace in Iraq. The task now is for Japan to end its subservience to U.S. policies and to withdraw the SDF immediately from Iraq. - Akahata, July 16, 2008
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