As you know, Iraq is now a sovereign nation, America having graciously returned its sovereignty on June 28, 2004. But there’s sovereign and then again there’s sovereign. And the sovereignty of a nation under military occupation is, shall we say, something of a state of mind.
And right now the otherwise hopelessly deadlocked “government” of the sovereign nation of Iraq is getting ready to be a royal pain in the ass to the Bush Administration. It seems that Iraqis of all ethnic stripes have finally found something to agree on (other than hating Americans): they want American contractors to be subject to prosecution under Iraqi law.
For some strange reason the Iraqis don’t think they can trust America to bring lawless contractors to justice. Go figure.
The Iraqi government on Tuesday approved draft legislation lifting immunity for foreign private security companies, sending the measure to parliament, a spokesman said.
The question of immunity has been one of the most serious disputes between the U.S. and the Iraqi government since a Sept. 16 shooting involving Blackwater USA guards that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.
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Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the draft law approved Tuesday would overturn an immunity order known as Decree 17 that was issued by L. Paul Bremer, who ran the American occupation government until June 2004.
“It will be sent to the parliament within the coming days to be ratified,” he told The Associated Press.
Al-Dabbagh did not single out Blackwater but said: “According to this law, all security companies will subjected to the Iraqi criminal law and must obey all the country’s legal regulations such as: registration, customs, visas, etcetera.”
Watching this play out is going to be fascinating. There’s simply no way the Bush Administration can allow this to go into effect. Given the overextended status of the US military, Bush desperately needs the rent-a-soldiers in Iraq. Absent them, he would be forced to dramatically cut back military operations — or perhaps even, God forbid, follow the will of the people and withdraw completely.
Yet, recruiting US and other Western civilians willing to work as contractors in Iraq absent legal immunity under Iraqi law would be next to impossible. (Would you want to be subject to prosecution in an Iraqi court?)
So ultimately the Bush Administration is going to have to find a way to squash this proposal and leave the immunity to prosecution under Iraqi law in place (while perhaps acquiescing to placing contractors under military justice), sovereignty be damned.
Hey, if they really wanted to be a truly sovereign nation, they shouldn’t have asked us to invade them in the first place
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