Thursday, 5 June 2008

US to stay in Iraq 'indefinitely'

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Today's Independent carries reports of a secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad to perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely. Under it US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law. America would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq.

The report calls into question constant US denials that it wants permanent bases in Iraq. Opposition to the 'strategic alliance' is however likely to be strong; Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is believed to be personally opposed to the terms of the new pact but feels his coalition government cannot stay in power without US backing. However, it risks being charged with being a 'pawn' of America and may strengthen opposition headed by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.



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