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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Iraq Splinters on Security

Council on Foreign Relations

June 11, 2008
Author: Greg Bruno

Five years since the fall of Saddam Hussein, factions in Iraq's parliament continue to squabble over oil, borders (UPI), and ballots (CNN). But on at least one important matter—security deals between Washington and Baghdad—Iraqis are increasingly in agreement. Opposition to the pacts is growing across Iraq's sectarian divide, as Sunni lawmakers, Shiite clerics, and some militia leaders have come out against U.S. proposals. Issues separating the sides include what role the United States should play in defending Iraq; its efforts to confront terrorist groups; and legal protections for U.S. troops and contractors.

But it would be an exaggeration to call this a unified Iraqi political front; motivations for challenging the deals are as varied as the factions are diverse. Some Shiite parties appear to be capitalizing on a "growing nationalist backlash" (Abu Muqawama). Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who says the deal would be "humiliating for the Iraqi people" (KUNA), has led a split (al-Hayat) of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Islamic Da'wa Paty, forming his own coalition. Ali al-Adeeb, another Da'wa party leader, contends the proposed agreements would "impair Iraqi sovereignty" (McClatchy) if U.S. demands for basing requirements are met. In the end, growing domestic pressure may force the Maliki government and its principle supporters to seek an extension of the UN mandate (WashPost) that authorizes the U.S. military presence. The White House wanted an inked agreement by the end of July.

Sunni concerns about the deals are more opaque. Kenneth Katzman, a specialist in Middle East affairs with the Congressional Research Service, says some Sunni factions favor a long-term security arrangement with Washington—in part because of assistance Sunni provinces received to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, as this Backgrounder explains.

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Copyright 2008 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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