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November 26, 2008

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If the SOFA is subject to a referendum, how can the 12 month notice period be binding? Or is it just that if the SOFA fails the referendum, then they will give notice? I guess it must be the latter.

I have nothing intelligent to add here other than to say:

Finally, a song I know.

Thanks -

Or is it just that if the SOFA fails the referendum, then they will give notice?

That's it.

As written, the SOFA gives either party to cancel it, upon 12 month's prior notice.

So this agreement to hold a referendum would not necessarily be made part of the SOFA, but would bind the Iraqi government such that if the referendum calls for withdrawal, the Iraqi government would cancel the SOFA (notice period pending).

that is "gives either party the right to cancel it"

A couple of points: when you reference the current Sunni bloc (Accord), readers should note that these Sunni politicians are not particularly representative of the wider Sunni population in Iraq, and are a separate entity from the Sunni Awakening political and military movement out of Ramadi (which sat out the last national elections).

The accord bloc is maneuvering to maintain power, and their only hope of doing this is by delaying and subverting the democratic process, because they don't have the votes. A portion of this strategy is contingent on achieving American disengagement.

In contrast, the Sunnis in the Awakening movement are content with continued American brokerage, because the Americans are the guarantors of both their political interests and are seen as a hedge against Iranian influence.

Fundamentally, while many folks here are eager to get the US out, a priority should be maintaining a US presence/engagement significant enough to guarantee transparent national and provincial elections (perhaps even for 2 cycles).

In addition, I'm not certain that a national referendum would result in a call for quick withdrawal, as many Iraqis see the benefit of US stabilization while wanting eventual withdrawal. But admittedly that might be changing rapidly, as security has improved so much, so fast, and they're feeling their oats.

This is potentially troubling. Think of it with this analogy: when you are prescribed antibiotics for 7 days and you take them for 5, you feel better, stop taking them and get sick again. Iraq is better, but US involvement needs to persist until stability is a sure thing. This might meet the timeline for a majority withdrawal by 2011, or it might not. (a Quds Force leader was apprehended the other week and operations are ongoing in Mosul as we speak, for example)

Large residual forces necessary for concerted ISF development will be needed to 2013 (and beyond), in any case.

Reuters is reporting the Iraqi Parliament agreed to the SOFA. No word on whether there will be a referendum.

Large residual forces necessary for concerted ISF development will be needed to 2013 (and beyond), in any case.

Well, that doesn't appear to be in the cards, does it.

Ugh: see the update.

Well, that doesn't appear to be in the cards, does it.

Depends on what one defines as "large." I should say "significant." For example, the development of the Iraqi Air Force is going to lag behind any of the timelines you're talking about, so, strictly speaking, there will be Americans in Iraq for some time past 2013. Further, the Iraqi Army and police still have tremendous difficulty with logistics and intelligence, and are dependent on American forces in these areas. Iraq isn't going to kick out that help, no matter the nationalist rhetoric.

In Kuwait there is a huge airbase out in the middle of the desert that "does not exist" in the mind of the locals. I expect a similar scenario in Iraq past the timelines we're discussing here.

Depends on what one defines as "large." I should say "significant."

I can envision a small presence focused on training, but I don't foresee any large contingent past 2011.

And of course, that all depends on the will of the Iraqi government.

In Kuwait there is a huge airbase out in the middle of the desert that "does not exist" in the mind of the locals. I expect a similar scenario in Iraq past the timelines we're discussing here.

Kuwait is a tiny principality awash in oil that has no legitimate way to defend its borders short of external guarantees.

Iraq is a slightly different can of worms, no?

FYI, Bill, the Iraqis can get flying instructions (and planes) from people other than Americans. I believe the EU and Russia make airplanes, as do the Chinese and the Indians. Any reason Iraq wouldn't put their air force out to tender?

I believe the EU and Russia make airplanes, as do the Chinese and the Indians.

The Indians have a damned good air force.

And they may be training with the Chinese sometime soon.

Thanks -

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