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Week of 04 June 2008

A letter was signed by thirty-one Iraqi legislators representing a majority of the Parliament and was delivered this week to Representative Delahunt, the Chairman of a House Foreign Affairs Oversight Subcommittee. The variously published excerpt follows:

"We, the undersigned members of the council, wish to confirm your concerns that any international agreement that is not ratified by the Iraqi legislative power is considered unconstitutional and illegal, in accordance with the current rulings and laws of the Iraqi Republic. Furthermore, any treaty, agreement or "executive agreement" that is signed between Iraq and the United States will not be legal and will not enter the stage of implementation without first being ratified by the Council of Representatives, in accordance with Article 61 of Section Four of the Iraqi constitution, which gives the Iraqi government's legislative power, represented by the Council of Representatives, the exclusive right to ratify international treaties and agreements.

"Likewise, we wish to inform you that the majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq, in accordance with a declared timetable and without leaving behind any military bases, soldiers or hired fighters."

Need we say more?

Well the Huffington Post has more:

"GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher asked the two men, point blank, if they would have preferred the United States not launch the invasion of Iraq. For al-Jaberi's part, he did not want to dwell on the "mistakes of the past." Al-Ulayyan, however, was a little more blunt in his assessment"

From the hearing:

"DANA ROHRABACHER: Maybe if you could just...if it's possible to answer with a yes or no, would you have preferred that the United States not have conducted the military operations it did in order to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein? Would you have preferred that we not do that now, in retrospect...

"KHALAF al-ULAYYAN, Member of the Iraqi Parliament: We would prefer if it didn't happen because this led to the destruction of the country.

"ROHRABACHER: So you would have preferred the United States not to have gone in and got rid of Saddam Hussein?

"al-ULAYYAN: The United States got rid of one person, but they brought hundreds of persons who are worse than Saddam Hussein.

"ROHRABACHER: That's a fair answer.

"al-ULAYYAN: And, unfortunately, now Iran is going into Iraq, and this is under the umbrella of the American occupation of Iraq."

Many of us in the USA agree with this. There is yet more:

The Washington Independent added testimony:

"Asked if the U.S. should withdraw, a somewhat-exasperated Jaberi said, 'The presence of foreign forces at this time may not be very useful in Iraq... it will be a source of instability in both Iraq and the region.'

"Ulayyan added, 'It's a well-known fact that an occupying power should keep security and order and stay until it builds forces capable of doing so. There has been a lot of destruction. We have a big, strong army but unfortunately it is infiltrated by militias loyal to Iran. Therefore ... I would like to see a schedule for withdrawal based on a timetable that allows enough time to rebuild the forces and make it stronger.'"

To us, the main issues now are how and how soon, not whether. The how issue includes rebuilding Iraq--a job that will surely extend beyond any occupation time. The sooner and more complete, the better.

To be sure, the devil will be in the details. Should we withdraw 80%, more or less, of our forces over the next nine months, sooner or later? Should the Iraqis have the power to extend the occupation by the last 20% for some reasonable time--say after one year?

One thing we can all agree with Rohrabacher on. It is reasonable to say the US destroyed Iraq and opened the door for Iranian influence. This fact may in the end preclude peace in Iraq for a long, long time.


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