With American friends like these:
" While the battle of Basra raged last week, a series of talks between the Bush administration and the US-backed Maliki government rolled forward. These negotiations may have at least as many implications for Iraq's future as the violence on the ground.
The discussions, ongoing since November, stem from a "Declaration of Principles" agreement signed by the two leaders, aimed at establishing a long-term "friendship" between their countries.
While the portion of the Declaration that suggests a permanent US military presence in Iraq has garnered much attention, the agreement also proposes another goal: to solidify "economic ties" between the two countries and grant the US preferential treatment in trading with Iraq.
As brought to light by last week's oil price surge during the assault on Basra, economic concerns are inextricably linked to the occupation. When it comes to oil, the coming months may be crucial in determining what kind of "friends" the US and Iraq are going to be over the long haul....In a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last month, State Department Iraq Coordinator David Satterfield revealed the Declaration of Principles proposals have now been divided into a binding Status of Forces Agreement (on military involvement) and a nonbinding Strategic Framework Agreement (on economic and diplomatic relations). Neither would be submitted for the consent of Congress. Though Satterfield emphasized that, being nonbinding, the Strategic Framework would not "tie the hands" of future administrations, it could solidify changes the US has already made to Iraq's economic landscape - and pave the way for increased US control over Iraq's oil in years to come, according to Antonia Juhasz, a fellow at Oil Change International.
"A lot of frameworks for foreign investment were set up under [former Director of Iraq Reconstruction L. Paul] Bremer, and are already in place," Juhasz told Truthout. "A bilateral agreement would lock all that in (emphasis added) and also place pressure on the government to pass the domestic oil law, to settle access for foreign companies to Iraq's oil underground."
The "all that" encompasses a host of sweeping reforms: Thanks to Bremer's alterations of Iraqi law during the first year of the US occupation, American companies are now allowed to buy out 100 percent of Iraqi businesses, instead of partnering with them. Bremer's orders also eliminated Iraq's high taxes on corporations, exchanging them for a 15 percent "flat tax." They abolished the practice of giving preference to Iraqi companies - in contracting out reconstruction work, for example - and erased a requirement to hire Iraqi workers.
Previously, Iraqi banks were closed to foreign ownership. Now, not only can foreign banks operate in Iraq, they can take over private Iraqi banks as well.
Bremer reworked Iraq's trademark and copyright laws, eliminated trade barriers and afforded foreign businesses the option of circumventing Iraq's legal system and taking any disputes to international tribunals....Last week's assault on Basra was "part of an effort to defeat the 'nationalists' in Iraq and consolidate a pro-US political regime that will go ahead with the oil deals," Paul told Truthout. Just before fighting erupted in Basra, the Iraqi presidential council approved the "provincial law," which clears the way for elections - potentially allowing nationalist leaders who oppose US oil interests to come to power. Maliki's Basra attack, says Paul, represents a failed attempt to quash that possibility. (emphasis added)""Managing Iraq's Econoccupation April 4, 2008.
And, with Iraqi friends like these:
"Ambassador Ryan Crocker first learned of the Iraqi plan on March 21: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would be heading to Basra with Iraqi troops to bring order to the city.
But the Iraqi operation was not what the United States expected.
Instead of methodically building up their combat power and gradually stepping up operations against renegade militias, al-Maliki's forces lunged into the city, attacking before all of the Iraqi reinforcements had even arrived. By March 25, a major fight was on. "Nothing was in place from our side," Crocker said in an interview. "It all had to be put together."
Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, lies atop vast oil reserves and is a strategically located port on the Shatt al-Arab waterway controlling Iraq's access to the Persian Gulf.
Predominantly Shiite, it has suffered from infighting among numerous Shiite militias, tribal forces and criminal gangs struggling for control of its lucrative smuggling and oil revenues. Even some of the Iraqi police are believed to be under the influence of militia groups.
One U.S. intelligence officer in Washington, however, said that although restoring order was his stated goal, the Iraqi leader was also eager to weaken the Mahdi Army militia and the affiliated political party of the renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr before provincial elections in the south that are expected to be held later this year. The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite political party and militia that are rivals to al-Sadr, his party and his militia, forms a crucial part of al-Maliki's political coalition."
One would need friends like these:
"In Senate hearing on Wednesday about the future of Iraq, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) asked Nir Rosen of the NYU Center on Law and Security what advice he would have for the U.S. going forward in Iraq, given Rosen’s extensive first-hand experience in the country. Rosen declined to respond, saying he felt “uncomfortable” giving advice to an “imperialist power”:
BIDEN: Based on what you’ve said, there’s really no hope — we really should get the hell out of there right now. I mean, there’s nothing to do. Nothing.
ROSEN: As a journalist, I’m uncomfortable advising an imperialist power about how to be a more efficient imperialist power. And I don’t think that we’re there for the interest of the Iraqi people. I don’t think that’s ever been a motivation. […]
BIDEN: [If we withdraw], the good news is we wouldn’t be imperialists in Iraq, from your perspective.
ROSEN: Only elsewhere in the region. (laughter). … There’s no positive scenario in Iraq these days. Not every situation has a solution. .... Watch the video in the link". Rosen: 'U.S. occupation in Middle East is ‘imperialist.’ April 4, 2008
Then again, is Rosen a friend?
See Paola Pisi's comment after Anonymous below.