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Bush's Secret Iraq Deal

Reuters reports: "A majority of the Iraqi parliament has written to Congress rejecting a long-term security deal with Washington if it is not linked to a requirement that U.S. forces leave, a U.S. lawmaker said on Wednesday.

"Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat and Iraq war opponent, released excerpts from a letter he was handed by Iraqi parliamentarians laying down conditions for the security pact that the Bush administration seeks with Iraq.

Robert H. Reid writes for the Associated Press about how the proposed agreement "is shaping up as a major political battle between America and Iran. . . .

"The agreement, which both sides hope to finish in midsummer, is likely to be among the issues discussed this weekend when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is due to visit Iran -- his second trip there in a year.

"Ahead of the visit, his party sought to calm worries by insisting that the deal would not allow foreign troops to use Iraq as a ground to invade another country -- a clear reference to Iranian fears of a U.S. attack. . . .

"A lawmaker from al-Maliki's party told reporters Tuesday that the Iraqis and the Americans are far apart on the security agreement. He said negotiations 'are at a standstill, and the Iraqi side is studying its options.'

"'The Americans have some demands that the Iraqi government regards as infringing on its sovereignty,' lawmaker Haidar al-Abadi said. 'This is the main dispute, and if the dispute is not settled, I frankly tell you there will not be an agreement.' . . .

"Most Iraqis view the U.S. insistence that American troops continue to enjoy immunity under Iraqi law as an infringement on national sovereignty. U.S. officials maintain they respect Iraqi sovereignty and are not seeking permanent bases."

Donna Abu-Nasr writes for the Associated Press: "One of Iran's most powerful politicians vowed Wednesday that the Islamic world will stop a long-term security agreement that is being negotiated by the U.S. and Iraq.

"Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told a gathering of Muslim figures in the holy city of Mecca that the United States is trying to enslave Iraqis through the deal. . . .

"'The essence of this agreement is to turn the Iraqis into slaves before the Americans, if it is sealed,' the former president of Iran said. 'This will not happen. The Iraqi people, the Iraqi government and the Islamic nation will not allow it.'

"Rafsanjani said the U.S. 'occupation of Iraq represents a danger to all nations of the region' and warned that the security deal would create a 'permanent occupation.'"

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