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Iraqis Condemn American Demands

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Abadi and other Iraqi officials said that assertion is undercut by the U.S. request to maintain 58 long-term bases in Iraq. The Americans originally pushed for more than 200 facilities across the country, according to Hadi al-Amiri, a powerful lawmaker who is the head of the Badr Organization, the former armed wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the country's largest Shiite political party.

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Iraqi officials said the U.S. government also demanded the continuation of several current policies: authority to detain and hold Iraqis without turning them over to the Iraqi judicial system, immunity from Iraqi prosecution for both U.S. troops and private contractors, and the prerogative for U.S. forces to conduct operations without approval from the Iraqi government.

The American negotiators also called for continued control over Iraqi airspace and the right to refuel planes in the air, according to Askari, positions he said added to concerns that the United States was preparing to use Iraq as a base to attack Iran.

"We rejected the whole thing from the beginning," said Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a senior lawmaker from the Supreme Council. "In my point of view, it would just be a new occupation with an Iraqi signature."

If the talks collapse, several Iraqi officials said, they would request another one-year extension of the U.N. mandate. But Iraqi officials said they would also ask for modifications to the mandate similar to those they are seeking in the current negotiations.

"All the same issues would then be transferred to the talks with the U.N. Security Council," Abadi said.

Assuming that violence in Iraq will continue to decrease, politicians such as Saghir have begun discussing another option: asking the U.S. military to leave Iraq.

"Maybe the Iraqi government will say: 'Hey, the security situation is better. We don't need any more troops in Iraq,' " he said. "Or we could have a pledge of honor where the American troops leave but come back and protect Iraq if there is any aggression."

The Iraqi government is also upset because it wants the United Nations to lift its Chapter 7 designation of Iraq as a threat to international security, which dates from Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Iraqi officials said the United States will not commit to supporting the removal of the label -- a position the Iraqis call an inappropriate bargaining tactic.

U.S. negotiators also said the agreements would not obligate the American military to protect Iraq from foreign aggression, Iraqi officials said, a promise they believe was a fundamental part of a declaration of principles signed by Bush and Maliki last winter.

"The prime minister is not happy about this," said Askari, who helped negotiate the declaration of principles, which outlined the strategic framework. "This is not what we agreed on."

Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish member of parliament who has been briefed on the negotiations, said the Americans recently had changed their position on four key issues: Private contractors would no longer be guaranteed immunity; detainees would be turned over to the Iraqi judicial system after combat operations; U.S. troops would operate only with the agreement of the Iraqi government; and the Americans would promise not to use Iraq as a base for attacking other countries.


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