The Bush administration is currently trying to push Iraqis into accepting a long-term security agreement that would “perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely.” The U.S. demands include nearly 60 permanent bases in Iraq, immunity for foreign contractors, and control over air space.
Iraqi opposition to this bill is growing so intense that Iraqi parliament member Nadeem al-Jaberi recently testified to the House that 70 percent of Iraqis are in favor of the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Some more voices of opposition from prominent Iraqi officials:
“The Americans are making demands that would lead to the colonization of Iraq.” — Sami al-Askari, a senior Shiite politician on parliament’s foreign relations committee who is close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
“We rejected the whole thing from the beginning. In my point of view, it would just be a new occupation with an Iraqi signature.” — Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a senior lawmaker from the Supreme Council
“What the U.S. wants is to take the current status quo and try to regulate it in a new agreement. … Signing the agreement would mean that the Iraqi government had given up its sovereignty by its own consent. And that will never happen.” — Haider al-Abadi, a parliament member from Maliki’s Dawa party
As Kevin Drum notes, these lawmakers are “not the faction that hates us, but the faction that supposedly likes us.” Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also recently urged Maliki to reject any U.S. agreement.
This is all very bad news…unless you’re a member of the Bush administration or one of its close allies. In a McCain campaign conference call today, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told reporters that this opposition was actually a sign of the Bush administration’s “success” in the war:
The second thing I’d say is the very fact that we’re at a point where the Iraqi leadership wants to negotiate this agreement is a sign of our success in Iraq, which is that Iraq now has a sovereign, independent, self-government.
Listen here (at approximately 11:45):
This talking point is quickly making the rounds. Today, President Bush also said this opposition shows that Iraq is a “vibrant democracy” because “people are debating.” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said it was a “very positive thing” that Iraqis were “using politics and the press as a way to get their message out.”
No matter what happens in Iraq, it’s always good news to the Bush administration and the McCain campaign.