An Illegal Occupation
IS America’s presence in Iraq legal? As Republicans and Democrats debate the ethical and practical considerations for and against the withdrawal of the United States forces, this question scarcely comes up. But within a few months, it could, suddenly and with potentially decisive impact.
In May 2003, just weeks after the overthrow of Iraq’s government, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483 recognized “the Authority” — which was to say “the occupying powers under unified command” — as Iraq’s effective legal government.
In October 2003, it took a further step and mandated that the United States-led multinational force establish security and stability in Iraq. ...
In June 2004, Security Council Resolution 1546 stipulated that “by 30 June 2004, the occupation will end and the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, and that Iraq will reassert its full sovereignty.” Subsequently, as sovereign Iraq has moved by stages through elections and complex deliberations to the formation of its current government, the United Nations has renewed the mandate for the multinational force at the request of successive Iraqi prime ministers — Ibrahim al-Jaafari in 2005 and Nuri Kamal al-Maliki last year.
The current mandate expires at the end of December. Will it be renewed? In June, the Iraqi Parliament passed a bill requiring that the next renewal should not be made without its advice and consent. Mr. Maliki has not signed the bill and could conceivably veto it. However, given the worsening of his relations with Washington, it seems increasingly likely he will give it his signature and, come December, do as it instructs.
The Iraqi Parliament, for its part, has already passed a nonbinding resolution calling for a timetable for a withdrawal of foreign forces. If it voted in December not to seek a renewal of the mandate, the American troops deployed in Iraq would be there illegally. [Emphasis added]
As Prof. Miles points out, this probably won't make a bit of difference to the Bush administration, but it could make a difference to the rest of the world, and it most certainly will make a difference to Iraqis. Among the scenarios Prof. Miles suggests possible are a general Shi'ite uprising against the US troops (making the earlier Najaf uprising look minor) and the selection of a different 'patron' to assist in ridding Iraq of the illegal occupying forces. The "new friends" Mr. Maliki (or his successor) could turn to include Syria, Russia, but most probably Iran.
And if it is Iran, we can expect another excellent adventure in "pre-emptive war," this time with the potential of involving the entire Middle East.
Prof. Miles suggests that instead of giving the President another $50 billion to wage this war come September, the Senate join with the Iraqi Parliament and issue a resolution demanding the withdrawal of American troops under a sensible timetable. Without the additional funds, the White House may finally have to give in and start the withdrawal many of our generals feel it's time for.
September 15 looks to be as good a time as any to make it clear to the US Senate just what it is we expect them to do.
Labels: Iraq War