Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Ever Changing Iraqi SOFA

News outlets, WSJ (AP), Reuters, Aljazeera (I am just the messenger), etc., are confirming today that the Iraqi government is sending the draft Iraqi SOFA back to U.S. negotiators with revisions concerning troop presence and, possibly, jurisdiction over US military personnel. As we previously reported here and here, the issue of jurisdiction over US military personnel for crimes committed in Iraq has been a big part of the on-going negotiations.

We also previously reported, here, that the issue of jurisdiction over crimes committed by US military/government contractors in Iraq seemed to be settled. An AFP story, here, indicated that the Prime Minister suggested that private security contractors (PSCs) working in Iraq would be subject to Iraqi law beginning on January 1, 2009. However, a WSJ story today makes me think that those prior statements were either limited to PSCs or limited to non-criminal law. Here is what the AP report said, via WSJ:

The agreement would call for U.S. troops to leave the cities by the end of June and withdraw from the country by Dec. 31, 2011 unless the government asked them to stay. The draft would also provide limited Iraqi jurisdiction over soldiers and contractors accused of major, premeditated crimes committed off post and off duty.
That statement isn't a model of clarity, but the same general statement was repeated in other reports by AFP and the BBC. BBC reported that the current draft agreement stated:
The pact is said to grant Iraqi judicial authorities limited ability to try US troops and contractors for major crimes committed off-duty or off-base - and only then if a joint US-Iraqi committee agrees.
We'll update this post as more information becomes available.

UPDATE at 1721, 21 Oct 08: Two sources, WaPo and CNN, confirm that one of the "hot-button issue[s]" in the Iraqi Cabinet's opposition to the SOFA is jurisdiction over US forces.

No comments: