With its international mandate in Iraq set to expire in 11 months, the Bush administration will insist that the government in Baghdad give the United States broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors specific legal protections from Iraqi law, according to administration and military officials.
This emerging American negotiating position faces a potential buzz saw of opposition from Iraq, with its fragmented Parliament, weak central government and deep sensitivities about being seen as a dependent state, according to these officials.
At the same time, the administration faces opposition from Democrats at home, who warn that the agreements that the White House seeks would bind the next president by locking in Mr. Bush’s policies and a long-term military presence. [complete article]
… a senior member of the Iraqi negotiating team, which has been almost completely appointed, said they would seek to have U.S. troops — who for five years have conducted aggressive combat missions across the country against al-Qaida and other radical Muslim militias — largely confined to their bases.
U.S. troops would have only limited freedom of movement off base under Iraq’s position, leaving only when requested to provide intelligence, air support, equipment and other logistical support, the Iraqi negotiator said.
Plan would let Iraq fight its own battles
U.S. officials have long maintained that the Iraqi army is “all teeth and no tail,” meaning it is entirely focused on combat but is unable to operate independently because of equipment and intelligence shortfalls. The agreement, as envisioned by Iraq, would shift military operations inside the country to emphasize Iraq’s combat strength with sophisticated background support from U.S. units. [complete article]