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Is the US-Iraqi Security Deal Beneficial For Both? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Americans have put a draft agreement on the table that they have called an agreement on security cooperation. This draft agreement has raised a good amount of discussions and objections. Each party viewed the issue from its own perspective. Washington has designed a special relationship with Baghdad that would succeed its current relationship that ends with the end of the period of international supervision that the United Nations granted it. The United States has to withdraw or stay based on the wishes of the current government and the approval of the majority in parliament. The objecting forces are either nationalist Iraqi forces that do not wish to have a relationship with foreigners or regional forces – specifically Iran – that wish to succeed the Americans in influence.

The fact is that I do not doubt the misgivings about a sick Iraq. At the same time, however, I do not know whether the agreement is indeed important for the two Iraqi and Americans sides, as they assert. I also do not know if the security agreement would be able to stand later. Modern history has shown that protection agreements, especially in our region, have failed and were eventually abrogated at high cost to both sides.

There are exceptions. The two US agreements with Japan and Germany after the Second World War lasted for a long time and were an alternative to occupation. The agreement with West Germany played an important role in confronting the Soviet advance that established a fierce fortress in the second part of Germany. Bonn became an essential and loyal ally of Washington during the Cold War game. The same thing happened with the other enemy Japan that signed the agreement in 1952. Japan became an essential ally of Washington against the eastern camp. The Americans say that they provided security and stability to two countries that were enemies and became friends after their regimes were change. They say that the agreements and the military presence combined led to the stability of Germany and Japan that was followed with prosperity that later competed with the United States itself. Are we about to repeat the same scenario with Iraq whose hostile regime Washington overthrew and replaced with a friendly regime? I am not sure in view of the differences in the regional geopolitical circumstances and Iraq’s diverse domestic crises. The Emperor of Japan is not Saddam or the Iraqi Baath Party and Germany – that was an industrially advanced country prior to its defeat – is not Iraq that is extremely backward and that has been isolated from many things for several decades. In addition to all of the above, Baghdad does not have one united leadership that can lead the country with overwhelming local support. History, the place, the time, the people, and the experiment are all different. We also have to recall that the British tired the same thing in Iraq in the past and failed. I expect the theatric to be repeated.

Although I believe that Iraq needs to feel that it is making its own decisions and that agreements are not being imposed on it, there are certain aspects that should be taken into consideration. Iraq needs stability and there is no other formula that can guarantee its protection from internal infighting without the American presence. These words are being repeated by most of the principal parties, including the opposition. Furthermore, the Iranian danger – that is staring at or, as the Iraqis say, “glaring” at this rich and important neighbor – cannot be taken lightly. It is hovering over its prey like a hawk waiting for the appropriate moment to pounce. In both cases, Iraq is in a quandary: Protection with unknown consequences and withdrawal that would tear the country apart. The security and military agreement will not help the Americans in Iraq. [What will help the Americans] are positive bilateral relations, as is the case with Washington’s relations with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council Iraq] that have been experiencing 50 years of stability with the least degree of sensitivity.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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