After the Iraqi cabinet voted in approval, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker met in Baghdad to sign the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
Both diplomats hailed the event as a “historic” one — not an overstatement as their meeting was the fruit of many months of deliberations and negotiations.
Reportedly, SOFA has a sister document whose details are yet to be made public. Radio Sawa reported that Zebari and Crocker signed “another long-term strategic agreement, which the U.S. ambassador said would shape relations between the two countries in all areas for years to come.” It’s actually surprising that there’s no mention of this second document anywhere in the media.
After the cabinet approved the agreement, movement began immediately in the parliament to found coalitions among parliamentary groups that are in favor of the agreement and among those opposed to it as well.
A parliamentary source told al-Sabah that a number of parliamentary leaders started working yesterday to build consensus over the agreement. The source said the positions of parliamentary powers are not clear yet but also added that “there is inclination toward approval, especially that cabinet members from the major groups approved the agreement yesterday. Ratifying the agreement in the parliament will not be impossible but also might face great obstacles.”
Once the news broke, Moqtada Sadr responded in his usual way. He called the agreement “a disgrace” and called on the Iraqi parliament to reject it.
Sadr said in a statement that “here is disgrace and humiliation brought by the United Iraqi Alliance and some Iraqi parties.” He added, “the government signed the agreement with the occupier with the help of the [Shiite] Alliance and some Kurdish parties under the pretext of ending the occupation. Overthrowing occupation is a religious and patriotic duty supported by logic and [religious] texts. Therefore it requires no agreement with those who respect neither faith nor promises.”
In his message, Sadr stressed that he considers the agreement void even if ratified and asserted that the “faithful will not be bound by it.” He called on the parliament to reject it without the least hesitation so that “Iraq and its people do not get sold out the way other Muslim countries were.”
Sadr also announced the formation of the Promised Day Brigade from Sadr movement elements and other sympathetic armed groups in order to fight American forces.