Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Obama’s Meddling Undermines Future U.S.-Iraq Relationship

The status of forces agreement (SOFA) can be regarded as the crown jewel of the U.S.-led change in Iraq. It’s not an overstatement to say that it represents an aspect of victory in this war. By victory I mean that it will mark the beginning of a time in which Iraq is officially a partner of the U.S., as it will join Iraq and the U.S. in a new relationship that serves the national interests of both countries.

Above all, it will be a major boost for the effort in the war on terror as it will guarantee that Iraq will not fall prey to extremists. It will ensure that Iraq becomes a barrier against the aspirations of extremists, not a vessel that conveys them. In my opinion this treaty will set the foundations for a new Middle East ripe for transformation and for joining the free world. For these reasons and for others that we’re still trying to understand, this treaty has been receiving fire from virtually all directions.

I understand why Iran and other enemies of democracy in the region stand against it. They know that it will stand in their way and further undermine their position. In fact, whenever I pass through a period of intellectual laziness, I look at where dictators and religious extremists stand on any issue and take the opposite position. Whenever I see them opposing something I can automatically — with a very low error margin — assume that the thing they oppose is good for me, for I absolutely wouldn’t suspect at any moment that they care about the welfare of the people of the region or that of the world. For this reason I wasn’t surprised by the vicious attack on the treaty from Arab and Muslim media and leaders.

If I’m not mistaken the last of such attacks came from Iran, whose president went as far as telling our speaker of parliament, so arrogantly, that it was our "duty to resist the Americans" while another official said the treaty would be a "disgrace" and stigma in the history of Iraq . I have no idea when Iran became concerned about keeping my country’s history bright!

While Iraqi and American negotiators and decision makers are doing what they can to finalize the agreement and reach a compromise on disputed issues, we find that everyone outside the negotiations is trying to put the stick in the wheel. But those are mostly parties that don’t want any good for Iraq and consider America a malicious intruder at best and a blood enemy at worst. What I find surprising is that someone from America is trying to obstruct the treaty. Believe it or not, there’s actually a guy who has no executive authority whatsoever — except in opinion polls — who is trying to bypass the actual top diplomats of the United States and undermine their negotiation efforts with a friendly state, at a time of war.
I was hoping that presidential candidates would not put their electoral objectives above those of their nation. Alas, blinding greed and selfishness seem to prevail sometimes.

I don’t dare suggest that Obama wanted to obstruct the treaty because it threatens Iran and other despots in the Middle East; I’m sure his purpose is different. The thing is that his purpose is also different from that of the U.S. or of Iraq — two friendly states looking forward to building long-lasting cooperation based on shared interests and mutual respect. We want victory in the war; Obama wants victory in elections — this is the problem.

I’m not sure how or if people here think the treaty might affect the presidential race, but in Iraq and the Middle East people think that signing the treaty before elections would be regarded as a victory for Republicans that could propel McCain to the White House. Again Iran and many in the Middle East don’t want McCain to be in the White House. I guess that’s one thing they have in common with Obama.

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