Global Policy Forum

MPs to Az-Zaman: We Demand

Mideast Wire
February 5, 2008

On February 5, the independent Az-Zaman daily carried the following report by Nidal al-Laythi and Karim Abed al-Zahra: "Iraqi MPs and heads of blocs demanded Nouri al-Maliki's government yesterday to hold a referendum over the long-term cooperation and friendship agreement with the US... MP Hamid Majid Moussa, the secretary general of the Iraqi Communist Party, MP Saleh al-Motlaq, the head of the National Dialogue bloc, and MP Zafer al-Aani from the Accord Front, said in statements to Az-Zaman that negotiations should be held on the basis of equality and demanded Al-Maliki to turn down any request related to the establishment of American bases in Iraq following the withdrawal.

"For his part, government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh revealed to Az-Zaman the negotiations strategy drawn by the government... He stated: "The negotiations do not include any permanent American presence in Iraq." He indicated that the negotiations were due to the willingness of both states to establish political, cultural, economic, diplomatic, security and military long-term relations... He added that the government's negotiation strategy stipulates that Iraq gets priority at the level of eliminating debt, restoring the smuggled funds and providing aid in order to reform and diversify the economy.

"Regarding the security and military aspects, Al-Dabbagh said: "The agreement with the UN will entail the signing of a new agreement with the US to codify its presence in Iraq. The agreement will define the size and locations of this presence and its activities will be conducted with the knowledge of the Iraqi authorities". He added that through this agreement, Iraq must regain its independence and sovereignty. He then stressed that the government wants the agreement to stipulate "the non-use of any American troops or American military presence against the province". He continued: "We are currently discussing the negotiations mechanism but a schedule will be set and the topics will be defined."

"For their part, Iraqi MPs demanded that any agreement be subject to a public referendum. The MPs who requested anonymity said that such an agreement should be accepted or rejected by the Iraqis in the referendum. Majid said to Az-Zaman: "We insist that the negotiations be conducted over clear issues in a transparent way"… He added that any agreement with the US should be voted on in the parliament and continued: "The agreement should be signed on the basis of mutual interests and non-interference in domestic affairs to secure Iraq's sovereignty and independence." He stressed: "We are against the presence of any foreign bases"…

"As for Al-Motlaq, he said to Az-Zaman: "We are against the establishment of American military bases in Iraq." Regarding the Sunday meeting, in which he participated, he said: "Ideas related to the formation of a negotiations delegation and the pinpointing of the interests of Iraq were discussed." He added there was consensus over the formation of a professional security delegation of experts and officials, to handle the negotiations with the American side..." - Az-Zaman, Iraq

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