The Thanksgiving Agreement with Iraq

One more reason for the nation to give thanks on this Thanksgiving Day, 2008:  the Iraqi parliament’s approval of security agreements between Iraq and the United States.

The United States and other coalition nations have been assisting the Iraqi government under United Nations mandates (and at the request of the Iraqi government) since June 2004. The United States and the United Kingdom stopped being “Occupying Powers” under international law on 28 June 2004 with the transfer of authority to the Iraqi Interim Government. See U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1546, 1637, 1723, and 1790 adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

The security agreements between the United States are another significant step in the young nation’s growing strength and independence. The counterinsurgency strategy and surge of forces implemented under General Petraeus are partly responsible for this step forward, but even more so are the efforts of Iraqi government, military and civilian leadership – and the Iraqi people themselves.

This is the President’s statement about the agreements with Iraq:

Earlier today, in another sign of progress, Iraq’s Council of Representatives approved two agreements with the United States, a Strategic Framework Agreement and a Security Agreement, often called a Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA. The Strategic Framework Agreement sets the foundation for a long-term bilateral relationship between our two countries, and the Security Agreement addresses our presence, activities, and withdrawal from Iraq. Today’s vote affirms the growth of Iraq’s democracy and increasing ability to secure itself. We look forward to a swift approval by Iraq’s Presidency Council.

Two years ago, this day seemed unlikely – but the success of the surge and the courage of the Iraqi people set the conditions for these two agreements to be negotiated and approved by the Iraqi parliament. The improved conditions on the ground and the parliamentary approval of these two agreements serve as a testament to the Iraqi, Coalition, and American men and women, both military and civilian, who paved the way for this day.

As the two agreements move to Iraq’s Presidency Council for final approval, we congratulate the members of the Council of Representatives for coming together to approve these historic agreements that will serve the shared and enduring interests of both our countries and the region.

Here are links to The Strategic Framework and the Security Agreement (aka Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA).

And to repeat something I noted previously,

Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter provides that the Security Council:

may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations (Article 42)

and calls on member states to

make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security. (Article 43)

While some church leaders and resolutions have opposed the ongoing U.S. actions in Iraq – supporting a freely elected government and defending the population from terrorists and sectarian violence – these actions have been fully consistent with those same churches’ support for the United Nations.