Leaked draft agreement reveals Iraq end-game:
Indefinite Occupation — Not that it should surprise anyone.

By Joshua Holland
An Editor and Senior Writer

George W. Bush and Nouri al-Maliki want to sign a long-term security treaty. Both are executives of countries with Constitutions that require treaties to be ratified by their respective legislatures, and both know that ratification doesn't stand a snow-ball's chance in Hell of happening.

So, in true American democratic style, they've taken to calling what any reasonable person would consider a long-term security treaty a "co-operation agreement," saying that it's the equivalent of the kind of non-binding "status of forces" deals the U.S. has with hundreds of countries around the world.

As such, the two leaders argue, the legislature has no say in the matter. If all this sounds familiar, it should.

Now, the Guardian has gotten a hold of a leaked draft of the deal, and we can see the endgame taking shape.

The Guardian's Seumas Milne:

A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.

The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked "secret" and "sensitive", is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security" without time limit.

The authorisation is described as "temporary" and the agreement says the US "does not desire permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq". But the absence of a time limit or restrictions on the US and other coalition forces - including the British - in the country means it is likely to be strongly opposed in Iraq and the US.

Iraqi critics point out that the agreement contains no limits on numbers of US forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term US security agreements with other countries. The agreement is intended to govern the status of the US military and other members of the multinational force.

Following recent clashes between Iraqi troops and Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army in Basra, and threats by the Iraqi government to ban his supporters from regional elections in the autumn, anti-occupation Sadrists and Sunni parties are expected to mount strong opposition in parliament to the agreement, which the US wants to see finalised by the end of July. The UN mandate expires at the end of the year.

One well-placed Iraqi Sunni political source said yesterday: "The feeling in Baghdad is that this agreement is going to be rejected in its current form, particularly after the events of the last couple of weeks. The government is more or less happy with it as it is, but parliament is a different matter."

The Democrats are making a stink over this, as they should. But, substantively, this approach — an indefinite military occupation — appears to be the establishment consensus on both sides of the aisle.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope coming from more progressive Democrats.