Iraqis acquire SOFA, is a TV next? No, we're not talking about Home Furnishings.
The SOFA (Status Of Forces Agreement) came to its finalization stages (signed off on by Iraqi Presidential Council) this past Thursday and to take effect (partially) January 1 (though, the full agreement implementation is pending referendum passage by Iraqis July 2009). The TV (Total Victory) will play out over the next few years as the US presence begins to withdraw from more locations (to defensive deployment positions) and Iraqi Police and Soldiers will have stepped-up responsibility, US troops to be able to leave Theater, with "complete withdrawal" (though that definition will not mean ALL US presence gone from Iraqi soil) by Jan. 2012. In the interim, US Troops will continue to train Iraqi Troops/Police and dissolve to the background more and more to support only roles - except in defence of direct attacks (of course) or "special circumstances" (read, Terrorist threat intervention).
Many will jump on the SOFA and argue the nuance of whether this is the end-table, to keep the furniture analogy, the "time-table," "time-line," or just "targets" (the something else) as argued through-out the 2008 US Presidential Election. Depends, of course, on who is insisting on doing Political Spin rather than speaking to the safety and security of our Troops and the long-term health of the new Iraq. The SOFA does allow for adjustments to the "target dates" should circumstances on the ground call for it - something that President Bush had been insisting be the case to protect all parties involved, as definitive "written in stone" planning only plays into the hands of those who will still wish to instill chaos and inflict casualties upon US troops as they redeploy. The SOFA was needed as the UN mandates expire.
My intent, in this blog, will not be to revisit History but some will insist on it. Whether somehow we could have held the Iraqi Armed Forces from complete breakdown upon Saddam's fall is moot, they dissolved without our intervention. Contrary to anyone that would like to Monday morning Quarterback the Invasion, all circumstances could not been foretold (no crystal ball was available). Many in the Shiite and Kurdish areas had been counting on the US to "Liberate," or at least provide the conditions for them to take up arms to over-throw Saddam, and when we opted for putting our own boots on the ground as-opposed to just providing Air (and other potentially limited ground) support - there was going to be sub-groups unhappy. Does anyone actually believe that if the Iraqi (Sunni) army been allowed to remain intact and used to go into Kurdish or Shiite areas they would be met with anything more than Armed resistance (probably by all, rather than just some)? These folks (Iraqi uniformed forces) are the ones seen as having perpetrated (on behalf of Saddam) the gassing and/or other mass-murders of fellow Iraqis. So, please - be real!
Kurdish resistance: was always expected to be the lightest, and was. The trouble there in the North of Iraq is that there is (and will always be) certain Militias (and some that we identify as Terrorist Groups/Cells) that will insist on an Independent Kurdistan (that they see as being parts of North Iraq and South Turkey). That is something that Turkey would never allow, and the Bush administration agreed, which is why the "3 State Solution" as a non-starter. You may recall some cross-border skirmishes that involve Turkish troops, but for the most part the Kurds were cooperative.
Shiite resistance, was always the biggest question mark. There was (and remains, potentially always will remain) a certain number of (think Sadr) Shiite Militias that are more interested in uniting with/under an Iranian Flag rather than the Iraqi Flag. This is the inner-Faith struggles amongst Muslim regions, rather than the borders of Iraq as they exist and was always planned to continue to exist!
So, again... Let's be real as we look back and/or forward. There is NO CIRCUMSTANCE where there would be PEACE AND HARMONY right from the start, or after we "attempt" to leave and let a "FREE IRAQ" try to truly take root. Some of you want to still argue we should have let all that turmoil continue?!?!
There were always going to be pockets of resistance. Strategies may have indeed potentially allowed varying degrees of resistances in one area over another. Many Iraqis did see us as Liberation, but they too had unrealistic notions as to when and how the post-Saddam era would come to be and would shape-up. That is the struggle of a FREE PEOPLE now, to try and resolve things peacefully (as possible).
(First entry under the new system, pardon me if it has any format or other issues as we get used to the new RS look/feel.)