Saturday, June 14, 2008

Extending A UN Mandate for US presence in Iraq??

In the news right now are many articles talking about a "UN Mandate" that will expire at the end of 2008, beyond which U.S. presence would not be allowed. UN Mandate? What Mandate? In Feb 2003 the United Nations voted against approving the invasion of Iraq, and (former) Secretary General Kofi Annan said the U.S. war in Iraq was illegal.

State: UN mandate in Iraq not needed relates an assertion by the U.S. State Department saying that neither a UN mandate nor Congressional approval is required to continue U.S. presence in Iraq. It further explains that with the expiration of the UN mandate the administration is negotiating a different agreement, a "long-term security plan", and that this agreement also would not require Congressional approval because it's not a "treaty". Elsewhere the article refers to Democrats who say all this is unconstitutional. Uh, yeah, unconstitutional activities would legitimately result in impeachment and conviction, would it not? Then why aren't the Democrats taking the impeachment resolutions seriously?

In any case the article does say this about the mandate: In his statement, Satterfield cites two legislative measures that he says gives the administration cover to remain in Iraq: the 2001 and 2002 resolutions authorizing force in Iraq and against nations harboring al-Qaida terrorists.

These are: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1382 (29 November 2001) which appears to be a continuing resolution granting continued approval for disarmament activities and names UNMOVIC and a specific list of armaments etc supposedly present in Iraq. And United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 which deplores the uncooperativeness expressed by Iraq etc and threatens further actions etc and again names UNMOVIC. In reviewing the UN Security Council Resolutions there's a large number of them which concern the situation in Iraq and often are worded to continue approval for prior resolutions. It's likely the mandate in question is derived from one of these continuing resolutions and it's possible the U.S. Administration believes it has authority deriving from the authority granted to UNMOVIC and previous organizations, whose intent was to disarm Iraq following the 1992 Gulf War.

Bush's attempt to dodge Congress on Iraq makes a summary of events.. In Nov 2007 a Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America is an agreement between the U.S. and Iraq which does include security guarantees such as Providing security assurances and commitments to the Republic of Iraq to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace. The Salon article refers to two other articles, by Spencer Ackerman of Talking Points Memo and by Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe, which raises constitutionality concerns and being "unprecedented in U.S. history and unconstitutional". But wait, in Feb the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, told a Senate committee that the agreements being negotiated did not include any security guarantees.

globalsecurity.org: Iraq - UN Documents is a listing of major resolutions concerning Iraq (up to 2004).

There were similar prior events surrounding prior extensions of a UN Mandate. In late 2007 The Extension of the United Nations Mandate for Iraq discusses a mandate that would expire at the end of 2007 and discusses a previous mandate that would have expired in 2006. In 2007 Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent a letter to the UN Security Council requesting that the Council extend the mandate of the U.S.-led Multinational Forces for one year, beginning December 31, 2007. However for al-Maliki to do this was unconstitutional by the Iraqi Constitution, as it requires The Council of Representatives (their Parliament) to be involved with such requests. And, also in 2007, the Council of Representatives, sent to the UN a letter requesting that the mandate not be extended. "The Iraqi Cabinet has unilaterally requested a renewal of the U.N. mandate keeping the occupation troops (MNF) in Iraq" despite the fact that "such a request issued by the Iraqi cabinet without the Iraqi parliament's approval is unconstitutional."...The important thing to understand is that the run-around goes beyond the issue of the mandate itself. Iraq is not in the midst of an incomprehensible religious war over some obscure theological differences between Sunni and Shiite Muslims but is deeply and profoundly divided over fundamental questions about the future of the country. In cutting the nationalist majority in the parliament out of the process of governing, the Maliki administration, Bush administration and, apparently, the U.N. secretary-general are making political reconciliation much more difficult.

UN renews mandate for Iraq troops (BBC: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 21:58 GMT) Is an example of how prior mandates existed. There was a mandate which expired December 31, 2006 and was extended in November 2006. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723 is the relevant resolution which in turn refers back to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546. UN extends mandate of Iraq troops (BBC; Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 19:03 GMT)

Bush, Maliki Break Iraqi Law to Renew U.N. Mandate for Occupation By Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted December 20, 2007 also covers the questionable legal status of the 2007 mandate extension. ...The move violated both the Iraqi constitution and a law passed earlier this year by the Iraqi parliament...Earlier in the week, a group representing a majority of lawmakers in Iraq's parliament sent a letter to the Security Council, a rough translation of which reads: "We reject in the strongest possible terms the unconditional renewal of the mandate and ask for clear mechanisms to obligate all foreign troops to completely withdrawal from Iraq according to an announced timetable."...This move speaks to the degree to which occupation and democracy are mutually exclusive, and to how Bush and Maliki must run roughshod over the Iraqi legislature (not to mention the U.S. Congress), sacrificing opportunities for political reconciliation along the way, in order to maintain an almost universally despised American military presence in the country....The U.N. mandate provides vital political cover for the occupation. The Bush administration has ignored or violated much of the international law governing the conduct of an occupying power. As Orwellian as it is, the United States, having bombed the hell out of Iraq, invaded it with a huge mechanized army and installed a government that exists wholly within the confines of its sheltered "international zone" -- the "Green Zone" -- and now maintains that its troops are in the country by the invitation of that government. The United Nations' mandate is a key part of maintaining that fiction....

Hmm.. this process of renewing a supposed UN Mandate of the US Occupation of Iraq.. the US Administration asserts it doesn't need approval from the UN, from Congress, and that they've been flouting Iraqi law in forcing the Iraqi government to "request" extension of the Mandate ... Uh...?

Bush pledges on Iraq bases a ruse analyzes some recent Bush Administration statements about the negotiations concerning the coming mandate renewal slated to occur later this year. Basically a series of statements have been made which appear to be using obscurating legalese to make what are effectively permanent bases to be legally defined as not "permanent". There are allegations the Administration plans to use bases in Iraq as a launching pad for an invasion of Iran, which the Administration denies, but it's clear the Administration wishes to launch an invasion of Iran. At the same time the Administration is seeking justification for the presence of forces in Iraq. Bush's Word Games on Permanent Bases is essentially the same article, by the same author, discussing how the Administration is using word play to avoid admitting the truth.

Secret US plan for military future in Iraq outlines secret plans being negotiated between the U.S. and Iraq. It is a draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked "secret" and "sensitive", is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorizes the US to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security" without time limit. It goes on to relate how critics point out the agreement is including no limits, so while it may not be specifying "permanent" bases (as noted above about official word play), if there are no limits on U.S. presence and no limits on what U.S. forces can do, then it's effectively permanent, and effectively the bases could be used to launch an Iran war. ...Senator Edward Kennedy, a senior member of the armed services committee, have said it goes well beyond other such agreements and amounts to a treaty, which has to be ratified by the Senate under the constitution....

DoD News Briefing with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael G. Mullen from the Pentagon, Arlington, Va. is a press briefing referred to by several articles which includes this statement:-

Q Mr. Secretary, there have been some critics who have questioned whether the talks with Iraq on a status of forces agreement could lead to security guarantees that might tie the hands of a future president in terms of how long to leave U.S. forces there. Is that a valid concern?

And the other thing is, they say that any agreement should go to Congress for congressional approval. What do you say to that?

SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, we haven't even -- we've hardly even started to talk about it among ourselves at this point. I think it's pretty clear that such an agreement would not talk about force levels. It would not involve -- we have no interest in permanent bases.

I think the way to think about the framework agreement is an approach to normalizing the relationship between the United States and Iraq.

As I say, I have -- there haven't even -- I haven't been involved in any discussions of what kind of form the agreement would make -- take or anything else. I do know that there's a strong commitment inside the administration to consult very closely with the Congress on this, but, you know, without any idea of what the form of an agreement is going to be right now, I think it's premature to talk about congressional agreement or executive agreement. I think we just don't know.

U.S. to seek broad powers in Iraq as UN mandate expires by Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers Published: January 25, 2008

While the United States currently has status-of-forces agreements with 80 countries, including Japan, Germany and South Korea and a number of Iraq's neighbors, none of those countries are at war. And none has a population outraged about civilian deaths at the hands of armed American security contractors who are not answerable to the law of the land.

U.S. Asking Iraq for Wide Rights on War (Jan 2008, NY Times)

Iraq May Request Extension For U.S.

...The Bush administration has said the accords -- a status of forces agreement on the rights and responsibilities of U.S. troops in Iraq, and a vaguely defined "strategic framework" on the broader U.S.-Iraqi security and political relationship -- are "non-binding." But U.S. lawmakers have questioned whether they commit the United States to a long-term security role in Iraq and challenged the White House contention that that they do not require congressional approval. Both Republicans and Democrats have accused President Bush of trying to tie the hands of his successor.

In a letter Wednesday to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the four senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee emphasized that Congress is in charge of funding any administration commitment, "regardless of election outcomes in November."

The letter, signed by Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and ranking minority member Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), along with John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), cited "the Constitutional and legal implications of these potentially sweeping arrangements," and said the need for legislative approval "remains an open issue."
...

The Wikipedia tells of the 2002 Iraq Resolution (Public Law No: 107-243) which is the U.S. Congress authorization of the War in Iraq. There is further analysis of the Legality of the Iraq War ..

... US and UK officials have argued that existing UN Security Council resolutions related to the first Gulf War and the subsequent ceasefire (660, 678), and to later inspections of Iraqi weapons programs (1441), had already authorized the invasion. Critics of the invasion have challenged both of these assertions, arguing that an additional Security Council resolution, which the US and UK failed to obtain, would have been necessary to specifically authorize the invasion....

No UN member has brought this issue of the war's legality before the Security Council and no nation-member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has expressed the desire to have the ICC rule on the war's legality....The UN Security Council, as outlined in Article 39 of the UN Charter, has the ability to rule on the legality of the war, but has not been asked by any UN member nation to do so. ...

... UNSC resolution 1441 was passed unanimously on November 8, 2002 to give Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" that had been set out in several previous resolutions (resolution 660, resolution 661, resolution 678, resolution 686, resolution 687, resolution 688, resolution 707, resolution 715, resolution 986, and resolution 1284). ...

...The legal right to determine how to enforce its own resolutions lies with the Security Council alone (UN Charter Articles 39-42), not with individual nations. On 8 November 2002, immediately after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1441, Russia, the People's Republic of China, and France issued a joint statement declaring that Council resolution 1441 did not authorize any "automaticity" in the use of force against Iraq, and that a further Council resolution was needed were force to be used. Critics have also pointed out that the statements of US officials leading up to the war indicated their belief that a new Security Council resolution was required to make an invasion legal, but the UN Security Council has not made such a determination, despite serious debate over this issue. To secure Syria's vote in favor of Council resolution 1441, Secretary of State Powell reportedly advised Syrian officials that "there is nothing in the resolution to allow it to be used as a pretext to launch a war on Iraq."...

...Debate about the legality of the 2003 invasion of Iraq under international law centers around ambiguous language in parts of UN Resolution 1441 (2002). The UN Charter prohibits any war unless it is out of self-defense or when it is sanctioned by the UN security council. If these requirements are not met international law describes it a war of aggression.

The position of the US and UK is that the invasion was authorized by a series of UN resolutions dating back to 1990. Resolution 1441 declared that Iraq was in "material breach" of the cease-fire under UN Resolution 687 (1991), which required cooperation with weapons inspectors. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that under certain conditions, a party may invoke a "material breach" to suspend a multilateral treaty. Thus, the US and UK claim that they used their right to suspend the cease-fire in Resolution 687 and to continue hostilities against Iraq under the authority of UN Resolution 678 (1990), which originally authorized the use of force after Iraq invaded Kuwait. This is the same argument that was used for Operation Desert Fox in 1998.[29] They also contend that, while Resolution 1441 required the UNSC to assemble and assess reports from the weapons inspectors, it was not necessary for the UNSC to reach an agreement on the course of action. If, at that time, it was determined that Iraq breached Resolution 1441, the resolution did not "constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq"....

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors (By Patrick Cockburn Thursday, 5 June 2008)

...the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated...The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal....The US has repeatedly denied it wants permanent bases in Iraq but one Iraqi source said: "This is just a tactical subterfuge."...

Patrick Cockburn: The reality is that Iraqi authority would be nominal Thursday, 12 June 2008

...The reaction in Iraq to the US demands for the long-term use of military bases and other rights has been so furious that Washington is now offering limited concessions in the negotiations. For example, the US is lowering the number of bases it wants from 58 to "the low dozens" and says it is willing to compromise on legal immunity for foreign contractors...US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, denied The Independent's report that the US wanted permanent bases in Iraq. But the reality of the US plan is that Iraqi authority would be purely nominal with a few Iraqi soldiers stationed outside the bases....It will also be difficult for the US to concede that the tens of thousands of foreign contractors in Iraq, who vary from heavily armed security men to support staff, be liable to Iraqi law because the US Army has become dependent on these forces and could scarcely function without them....

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