Reuters reports massive protest in Baghdad against a proposed security agreement which would extend US stay in Iraq.
With Nov 4 US presidential elections around the corner, the Republican camp wants a success story, an 'October surprise' if you will. But even more important is the Dec 31 deadline, when the UN mandate authorizing the US -led forces in Iraq expires. The US did not have this 'mandate' at the time of the invasion in Iraq. It was approved only later on, after the invasion, indicating once again the impotence of the UN against the powerful players in the international arena. But the deadline still matters, because a security agreement with the Iraqi government, replacing the mandate, will give an aura of legitimacy to the highly unpopular US occupation. If the proposed security pact is authorized by the Iraqi parliament, it will extend the US stay until 2011. The pact also gives immunity to US soldiers and "civilian contractors" (read: mercenaries) from Iraqi law. Hence, the UN deadline is quite urgent for the US hegemonic ambitions in the region, which will likely remain unaffected under either Rep or Dem administration. After all, the trillion dollar investment in Iraq and the construction of the largest US military-base/diplomatic-outpost of the world in Baghdad (and other smaller outposts across the country) are not for nothing.
What we are actually seeing is a blatant attempt at forging 20th-century style colonial rule, using security and reconstruction as ideological justifications, enforced through (covert and overt) military apparatus, divide-and-rule diplomacy, and economic coercion. The coming 75 days are likely to be quite volatile. We may see an increase in violence and intense political tug-o-war among various players. I really do hope otherwise for the Iraqi people.
Anti-US protesters rally against Iraq-US security pact, Gulfnews, October 18, 2008
Muqtada al-Sadr urges rejection of US-Iraqi pact, AP, October 18, 2008
Thousands march in Baghdad against U.S. pact, Reuters, October 18, 2008