Raed Jarrar is an architect and political analyst currently based in Washington DC. He was born in Baghdad and spent most of his life in Iraq, where he obtained his first degree in architecture at the University of Baghdad. He also founded an NGO called “Emaar” that carried out community work in Baghdad.
James Paul has been Executive Director of Global Policy Forum since its foundation in late 1993. He is a prominent figure in the NGO advocacy community at the United Nations and a well-known speaker and writer on the UN and global policy issues. Born in New York City, he earned a B.A. from Harvard College, M.A. from Oxford University, and his Ph.D. from New York University in 1975 with a specialty in comparative politics.
ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER/PRODUCER: On May 24, 2007, President Bush had this to say on Iraq:
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It’s their government’s choice. If they were to say leave, we would leave.
Iraqi MPs demand withdrawal
NKWETA: A month earlier in a letter to the U.N. Security Council a majority of Iraq’s democratically elected parliament had publicly called for a timetable for foreign troop withdrawal. Prime Minister Maliki silenced Parliament by denying them their constitutional right to ratify the U.N. agreement under which the multinational forces operate in Iraq. This contradicts Article 58, Section 4 of Iraq’s constitution, which states that the cabinet must gain ratification from Parliament for all international treaties and agreements. Maliki has repeatedly ignored this rule by acting unilaterally to allow multinational forces to operate in Iraq. We spoke with the Iraq consultant for the American Friend Services Committee, Raed Jarrar.
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VOICE OF RAED JARRAR, IRAQI CONSULTANT, AFSC: Last year, when the time of renewing the United Nations mandate approached, Maliki cabinet and the Iraqi presidency went ahead and bypassed the Iraqi parliament, despite the fact that the parliament is the entity that has the exclusive constitutional authority over ratifying or approving the international treaties. This year, I think, the situation is different because the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution earlier this year, in May, stating that any United Nations renewal that doesn’t come back to the parliament is illegal and unconstitutional. And they sent a letter one month before that to the Security Council to this effect. One hundred and forty-four Iraqi parliamentarians, which is more than half of the parliament, sent this letter saying that any renewal without coming to the parliament is unconstitutional. And they demanded to set a timetable for a withdrawal of all the multinational forces. And the secretary-general’s report about Iraq mistakenly reported that the Iraqi parliament’s resolution was non-binding. This is completely wrong. In fact, the Iraqi parliament’s resolution was binding. It became a law after fifteen days of passing from the parliament, because the president did not veto it, according to the Iraqi constitution. And it’s constitutional—even if the Iraqi parliament hasn’t passed this law, it’s still a constitutional article. That is very clear. I don’t think there is a lot of confusion regarding the information, but there is a lot of effort to confuse the public and keep this information a secret and, you know, just pass this U.N. mandate behind closed doors.
NKWETA: Pressure is mounting from Maliki to follow the constitution and have the U.N. multinational forces mandate ratified by Iraq’s parliament. We spoke with James Paul from the International Policy Forum, which monitors U.N. agreements.
JAMES PAUL, INTERNATIONAL POLICY FORUM: Prime Minister al-Maliki is caught here between a rock and a hard place, because the United States is putting very heavy pressure on him to agree to a simple renewal of this mandate, and the parliament is saying no, we want to have a say in this, and we want certain conditions imposed on any renewal if there’s to be one at all, and those conditions would be setting a timetable for the withdrawal of the MNF [multinational forces]. And the United States doesn’t want that to happen, so they’re ready to ignore democracy in Iraq and put every possible pressure to bear on the prime minister to go along with what they want. I think the issue of what might happen if it were to run out or not be renewed is very interesting here, because clearly the Bush administration, if it’s not renewed, is not simply going to pull out all the U.S. forces, but the U.K. might be forced to withdraw its forces in the absence of a U.N. mandate. I think that’s quite likely.