Saturday, September 20, 2008
Former Iraqi Deputy Premier Ahmad Chalabi says the United States is seeking to establish secret military bases in the oil-rich country.
In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency, Chalabi said within the framework of the controversial security deal, US officials are trying to open secret military bases in Iraq.
“Within the framework of the security pact, the United States does not wish to merely have open military bases (in Iraq), rather secret military bases (there),” he said.
Washington currently is trying to persuade Baghdad to sign a controversial Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to give legal basis to its military in Iraq after December 31 when the UN mandate defining its status expires.
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Referring to the recent US-Russia row over Georgia, Chalabi said that heightened diplomatic tensions between the Washington and Moscow made securing the deal a top priority for US officials.
“If a security deal is not signed ‚Ä¶ by Dec. 31, regarding the recent US-Russia row over Georgia and the Iraqi government’s decision not to extend the US forces’ presence in Iraq for another year, the US presence in Iraq will become illegal,” he said.
Under the current provisions of the agreement, Baghdad would be required to allow American military bases in the country and immunity from prosecution for all US personnel.
The deal however has been opposed by Iraqi from all walks of life including political and religious leaders as well as parliamentarians. The critics of the deal say it would turn the country into a US colony.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said on Thursday that there were very serious and dangerous obstacles to the deal.
“If they (US negotiators) meet our demand quickly, the deal will be signed soon, but if they refuse our demands, it will face obstacles and could lead to new negotiations,” the Prime Minister said.
Press TV correspondent in Iraq, Wisam al-bayat, said the issue of granting immunity to American soldiers, a timetable for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and the number of US bases in the war-torn country could be among the serious obstacles.
One day after al-Maliki’s remarks, US forces in a pre-down air strike in Iraq’s northern city of Tikrit, killed eight Iraqi civilians, all members of a family.
This article was posted: Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 4:00 am