Canadian singer / songwriter Bruce Cockburn performs his classic song “Call It Democracy” live on Canadian Television. In it, he characterizes the International Monetary Fund as a global parasitic banking oligarchy bent on reducing the 3rd world to poverty stricken heaps.
Injured Palestinian Worker Arrested When Trying to Raise Complaint Against Soldiers Who used Dogs to Attack Him
During the morning hours of Sunday 10 April, three Palestinian workers were attacked by Israeli soldiers, southwest of Hebron. The three men were walking to work when the army stopped them near Ramadin, a village in Area C adjacent to the Green Line. The soldiers attacked the workers with the dogs.
One of them, ‘Ala Adel Hawwarin, a 21 year old resident in the village of Dahirriya, was seriously injured in his left hand by a dog. The other two men, Mohamed Majed Abu Cawud, a 20 year old from Ramadin, and Raed Ismail Najjar from Yatta, suffered lower body injures.
‘Ala was brought to the hospital in Hebron, where he was treated.
Three days later, on Wednesday 13April, ‘Ala Adel Hawwarin went to the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba to make an official complaint against the soldiers. The Military Police denied the complaint, treating ‘Ala as a criminal. The police arrested the young man, accusing him of attempting to enter the Israeli State illegally, without permission. ‘Ala called his family from the prison and told them what’s happened. The worker was in prison for two days. He was just released by the police after paying 1000 shekels.
During the days before the soldiers’ attack on the three workers, on Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th, several Palestinians were threatened and injured by army dogs. This is a systemic act on the part of the Israeli soldiers in South Hebron Hills in order to scare Palestinian residents.
Furthermore, the Israeli Military Police usually denies the complaints of Palestinian residents against the settlers’ violence and the army’s harassment.
Refusing this kind of complaint is a common practice, according to human rights organizations and international humanitarian associations. But now the behavior has also been admitted by the Police. On Thursday 14 April the Brigadier Meir Ohanna, commander of the Israeli Military Police, testified in front of the Turkel Committee that “most of the complaints that the Palestinians did against the Israeli soldiers end without investigations. Most of the complaints die without any accusation or any disciplinary measure against the soldiers.”
Ohanna, who was assigned by the Committee to investigate the practices of the Israeli Military Police, said that only 6-9% of the complaints by Palestinians are taken into consideration and followed by official accusations. The rest are totally ignored. Thus, hundreds of cases of abuse, harassment and attacks against Palestinian people aren’t punished: only a few soldiers have gone in front of a court to be judged.
Those kind of attacks and intimidation are forbidden by international law. The military occupation of a population is regulated by the fourth Geneva Convention: the international humanitarian law signed in 1949 establishes that “the persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any matter whatsoever, find themselves in case of a conflict or occupation in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals” (art. 4).
Thus the Geneva Convention establishes that in Occupied Territories, as is Palestine, the protected persons are entitled to respect for their persons, family rights, religious convictions and practices; they shall at all times be humanely treated, especially against violence or any kind of threats and insults (art. 27).
The article 32 prohibits any measures of brutality applied by civilian or military agents against protected people: applying the international law to the case of the three workers in Ramadin, soldiers should be punished for the attack they committed.
Further, the Convention forbids collective penalties and all measures of intimidation carried out by the army of the Occupying Power, like Israel in the Occupied Territories. But in the South Hebron Hills and in the rest of West Bank, collective punishments and threats are the systematic way of intimidating Palestinian people. House demolitions, illegal searches and arrests used by the army, are also helped by the Israeli Military Police, who do no investigate and punish the guilty soldiers.
The official Euro-American invasion of Libya is about to begin. I say “official” invasion because the Europeans and Americans already have boots on the ground making bloody footprints in Libya, from U.S. Special Ops and CIA, British Special Air Services commandos, and their French counterparts. The news media of the invader countries know their armed forces are active on Libyan soil, and occasionally report as much. But they dutifully await announcements from their governments that the “real” invasion has, officially, begun.
That time is near. The British announced they are sending a ten-man military adviser team to help the rebels. The French, who were obscenely quick to recognize the rebels’ so-called National Transitional Council as a kind of government, already have military advisors in Benghazi. The American CIA and the Saudi Arabians are thought to be truly in on the ground floor, having sponsored and financed Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan exile who formed the so-called Libyan National Army that has been trying to mount an armed revolt against the government in Tripoli for more than 20 years.
The mass ground onslaught may well commence with the imminent deployment of the European Union’s so-called “battle groups” – multinational military units of about 1,500 men each. The 27-nation European Union had been discussing ways to insinuate a force into Libya since the beginning of April. Unexpectedly, Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi agreed in principle to allow international humanitarian personnel to aid civilians in the contested port city of Misrata. Quickly, the Europeans seized on Gaddafi’s statement as an excuse to send up to 1,000 men on an assignment that could only be accomplished by a large ground military force operating with close air support. The EU battle group would secure the port facilities, which are now held by rebels, and then create land corridors into and out of the city, much of which is held by loyal Gaddafi soldiers whose lines would have to be crossed.
Remembering that once you give the former colonialist an inch, he will take your whole country, Col. Gaddafi vowed that he would fight any foreigner soldiers that attempted to land on Libyan territory, no matter what they claimed their mission was.
The European scheme is transparently cynical. They seek to land a “battle group” in Misrata under humanitarian pretenses, and then inevitably clash with Gaddafi’s soldiers dug in nearby. That will be the beginning of the European’s multinational land invasion, with thousands of troops arriving in Libya in short order. The siege of Tripoli will begin, if the regime holds out, and if not, then begins the guerilla war or, as the Euro-Americans like to call it when they steal someone else’s country, the “insurgency.”
The U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, used to worry about getting permission to open an office on African soil. Soon, it may be operating from one of the largest countries on the continent.
Last week, Congress finally got around to finalizing the 2011 budget, which included a record-breaking appropriation of $3 billion in military aid to Israel (not including an additional $415 million in Pentagon funding for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense projects).This money was the third installment of a ten-year Memorandum of Understanding signed by the United States and Israel to provide Israel with $30 billion in U.S. military aid from 2009-2018, an annual average increase of 25% over previous levels.
It is well-known that Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid and that U.S. weapons provided to Israel make the United States intricately, deeply, and comprehensively complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians. However, until now, the extent of U.S. weapons transferred to Israel and the direct relationship between these weapons and Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians has been difficult to detail.
Not any longer. To coincide with Tax Day, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation launched a new website: How Many Weapons to Israel? to catalogue and quantify the types, values, and quantities of U.S. weapons transferred to Israel between 2000-2009. Even for someone like myself who works everyday to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel and follows the issue closely, the results of our research are eye-popping. The sheer magnitude of weapons given to Israel is staggering; the devastation caused to Palestinians by these weapons is heart-breaking. Our research shows that during the past decade, the United States provided Israel with more than 670 million weapons and related equipment, valued at nearly $19 billion, through three major weapons transfer programs. In our database, we detail more than 500 different weapons categories, along with the value and quantity of each type of weapon transferred to Israel.
How Many Weapons to Israel? paints a disturbing picture of the extent to which the United States is saturating Israel with weapons. Take just one example: in the last three years alone, the United States has provided Israel with enough ammunition (47 million pieces) to kill every Palestinian in the Occupied Territories more than ten times over! What a truly frightening thought.
If Israel were using these weapons for their intended purpose under U.S. law, which is restricted to “legitimate self-defense” and “internal security,” then perhaps these weapons transfers would raise only fiscal concerns. However, How Many Weapons to Israel? also makes clear the moral and political implications of arming Israel.
From September 2000-December 2009, roughly the same period during which the United States transferred these weapons to Israel, the Israeli military killed at least 2,969 Palestinians who took no part in hostilities, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. How Many Weapons to Israel? demonstrates the direct correlation between Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians and types of weapons provided to it by the United States. Returning to the example of ammunition, the database reveals that Israel killed 1,931 unarmed Palestinians, including 735 children, with small arms gunfire.
The US Campaign launched this website, as part of its ongoing organizing campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel, to provide incontrovertible and irrefutable evidence that Israel is misusing U.S. weapons to commit grave human rights abuses against Palestinians in violation of U.S. and international law.
With easy-to-use slideshows and spreadsheets, the US Campaign intends for How Many Weapons to Israel?to be used by activists to raise awareness about the moral and political costs of arming Israel with our tax dollars.
This new website is designed as a complement to our sister website How Much Military Aid to Israel? which reveals the budgetary trade-offs involved in arming Israel. On that website, viewers can use our interactive map to find out how much money their city, county, Congressional district, and state provide in weapons to Israel, and which unmet social needs could be funded instead with this money.
Both websites are designed as interactive tools for activists to use in their communities to educate people about the financial, moral, and political costs of transferring weapons to Israel. Activists can also sign up to receive an organizing packet from the US Campaign to be a part of our ongoing campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel.
And, after viewing these websites, if you are as outraged at this misuse of our taxes as I am, then you can join with me in “offsetting” the estimated $21.59 you just gave Uncle Sam for weapons to Israel this year by making a tax-deductible contribution to support the work of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of more than 350 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality. He is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service.
Muhammad Totah (Jillian Kestler-D’Amours)
Approximately a hundred persons gathered in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Friday, 15 April for midday prayer, and to show their solidarity with three Palestinian politicians who have lived inside a makeshift tent at the International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters since last July.
Shortly after the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections, three Jerusalem deputies and the former minister of Jerusalem affairs — Muhammad Abu Tir, Ahmad Attoun, Muhammad Totah and Khaled Abu Arafeh, respectively — were told by Israeli authorities that they must resign from the Hamas-led Palestinian government or have their East Jerusalem permanent resident status revoked.
Prosecuted before an Israeli military court, the four Hamas-affiliated lawmakers were sentenced to two to four years in Israeli prison when they refused to resign from their posts. Shortly after their release in the summer of 2010, the Israeli authorities again threatened to forcibly transfer the men and strip them of their East Jerusalem residency rights.
Muhammad Abu Tir was arrested on 30 June 2010 when he refused to leave the city. The next day, the three remaining deputies took refuge at the International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters in occupied East Jerusalem to avoid a similar fate. As of Friday, 15 April 2011, when the following interview was conducted, they had spent 289 days living there.
The Electronic Intifada contributor Jillian Kestler-D’Amours spoke with Muhammad Totah about why he and his colleagues decided to request help from the Red Cross, the impact the situation has had on his family, and what he hopes for in the future.
Jillian Kestler-D’Amours: What led you and your colleagues to seek refuge at the Red Cross headquarters?
Muhammad Totah: Our case started in 2006, when there were [Palestinian Legislative Council] elections in the [occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem]. … All the factions participated in the elections. [The international community] said that they wanted us as Palestinians to practice democracy. They said that they will respect the results. The election was fair and free and it was monitored and witnessed by the international community. But after the results were announced, the international community denied the results and refused to deal with the [Hamas] list Change and Reform, which won in these elections.
Four or five months after these elections, the Israeli occupation [authorities] arrested 64 [persons]. All of them were ministers in the government, deputies in the parliament and mayors. Me and my other three colleagues from East Jerusalem [Ahmad Attoun, Muhammad Abu Teir and Khaled Abu Arafeh] have endured what our colleagues have endured and I have spent time in the prison, three and a half years.
I was released on 2 June 2010. After one day only, they gave me and my other three colleagues an order to leave Israel within ten days. The main reason given was that we are disloyal to Israel because we participated in the election and we have been members in the Palestinian parliament. They have asked us to resign from the parliament.
After three or four days, they have arrested one of our colleagues, Muhammad Abu Tir, on 30 June. We thought that our case would be the same. For that reason, on 1 July 2010, we came to the Red Cross, to the headquarters here in East Jerusalem, to put our case on the [radar] of the international community.
JKD: What will happen if you and your colleagues are deported from Jerusalem?
MT: It means deporting thousands of people from East Jerusalem for disloyalty. This word does not have any dimensions or any measures, so they can claim that anybody living in East Jerusalem … is disloyal to the Israeli occupation and then deport him. We know that it is one of the main objectives of the Israeli plan to empty East Jerusalem of the Palestinian people.
East Jerusalem is an occupied territory and it is illegal to deport people who are under occupation. It is now the tenth month that we haven’t left these headquarters. If we leave it, then we will be immediately arrested.
We think the only way to cancel the decision of the deportation is with the intervention of the international community. We are constantly asking the international community to uphold its responsibility regarding us, since we are occupied and it is their responsibility to take care of the people who are under occupation.
JKD: What impact has the situation had on you personally and on your family?
MT: We and our families are suffering from this separation since we have been in the prison, and we are again now separated from our children, from our wives.
I have five children. Most of them couldn’t understand the situation here because it is the first time that people are coming and [seeking refuge] in the Red Cross. It is the first time in the history of Palestine. So they couldn’t understand. They have understood that when we were in the prison, that the Israelis have imprisoned us. They understand that we have been deported but they couldn’t understand, why here? Why are we living in the Red Cross?
My little child, each time he comes here, he takes my hand he says, ‘OK, I can understand that when you were in the prison, the door was closed so you couldn’t go out. I can understand that. But now I can’t understand that the gate is open, it’s a very big gate, and you cannot go out.’
‘You have very strong legs, you can go,’ he says. He takes my hand and goes to the gate and asks me, ‘Come on, I can take you if you cannot go out.’ Then, he starts to cry and says, ‘OK, it means that you do not like me and my brothers. You hate us.’ And then he goes running to his mother.
He’s now six years old; who can explain to him the situation? I tried. And I have asked many of my friends to try with him to explain. But he couldn’t understand.
JKD: What do you think will happen in the future?
MT: We don’t have very many choices. The only choice that we have is to leave this headquarters but that means opening the door to deporting thousands of people from East Jerusalem. It is very dangerous.
It is not easy to put yourself in one place and not move. It is very difficult. We feel that it is more difficult than prison. Because prison, the decision to go out is not [yours] because the door is closed. It is not your decision to go or not to go. Here, it is your decision, to leave or not to leave.
We know that we have to endure what we are enduring now for the benefit of our people, for the Palestinian people. For that reason, we will not leave even though it is very difficult for us. We are hoping that the international community will uphold its responsibility.
Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at http://jkdamours.com/.
Japan’s Disneyland reopens.
Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan makes a plea to his countrymen to “live life as normal”.
It would be churlish to deny scared kids or worried parents a hug from Mickey Mouse, if that’s what might console. But the proliferation of fantasies regarding the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plants continues at a ferocious pace – and behind-the-scenes, plans for a sarcophagus solidify.
The New York Times talks of the possibility of returning the land to a “greenfield” state. Denis Flory, a Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Association insists Fukushima is not Chernobyl. At a recent meeting, Flory explains, “At Chernobyl a nuclear reactor exploded. In Japan… there may be…” The Deputy Director pauses and looks abashed, “some leaks, but containment is here.”
This absurd claim is made, despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Association’s own data asserts that 70% of the radioactive fuel in reactor no. 1 is damaged. In reactor no. 2, 30% of the fuel is damaged and it’s 35% in reactor no. 3. (Damaged means crumbled, cracked and/or melted fuel. It is now accumulating at the bottom of the reactor vessels and impeding cooling of, as yet, undamaged fuel.)
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency opines that high radiation readings above the irradiated fuel pool at reactor no. 4 may be from “rainwater.”
And, Big News, on Monday, April 18, TEPCO admits its month-long, much-ballyhooed effort to cool the reactors isn’t working, hasn’t worked and won’t work. A new cooling system will have to be designed and installed to bring the temperature of the fractious reactors under control.
A staggering admission.
The term boiling-water-reactor has a new punch. At the Fukushima plants water inside reactors vessels 1, 2, and 3 is hot. In the hottest reactor the water temperature is 338 degrees Fahrenheit, well above the boiling point. (The other two reactors aren’t much cooler.) Weeks and weeks of spraying by helicopters and pumping have been to little avail.
Take the Japanese government’s, TEPCO’s, and the world media’s hard labors to create the belief that the situation is “improving.” Combine this comforting notion with good-old, ordinary denial, with a highly understandable human desire to deny the magnitude of the tragedy, and it’s hard to keep one’s eyes fully open, right on-the-ball.
But here it is before our eyes: Three reactors still reeling out-of-control. Three reactors whose coolant is at a roiling boil — much like the bubble-filled and steam-generating water all of us know from cooking up a bit of pasta for dinner. One of these reactors, no. 2, has a steel containment vessel that may be cracked. Plus, at reactor no. 4, one steaming, over-heated, spent fuel pool the concrete support of which is a tad sketchy.
Unlike our pasta water, in the case of the Fukushima reactors, the boiling water is contaminated with fission products such as cesium, strontium and plutonium. And said water with its toxic load has to go somewhere, i.e. outside the reactor. So at Fukushima there is an ongoing program of what in nuclear parlance is called “feed and bleed.” Or, in simple language, feed water into the reactor vessel and release radioactive steam to the environment. And then there’s the advertent leaks to adjacent turbine buildings, outside ditches, and, alas, the ocean.
The current TEPCO estimate is that this will go on a long time. Month in and month out. Probably, until December. Regular burps of radiation into the atmosphere and regular releases of radioactivity into the ocean for 6 to 9 months?
That’s the short term outlook.
The longer term is 10 to 30 years to remove all the fuel, cut up the reactor vessels, cart the contaminated pieces of steel away, cut up the contaminated concrete and lug that away, take the intact fuel somewhere (the Rokkasho reprocessing facility?) and do what with the damaged fuel? Leave it in place, as was done at Chernobyl? Where, 25 years after the Chernobyl explosion, radioactivity is currently seeping out, requiring the emplacement of a second, larger sarcophagus?
Fukushima, Chernobyl. It’s not a pretty picture.
In the meantime, why not cover-up those ugly skeletal remains at Japan’s crippled plants? With some improvised coverings and, down the road, a sarcophagus or two or three?
Recently, the sarcophagus-approach came a couple of steps closer with the arrival in Japan of two immense concrete pump trucks.
Each of these behemoths, known as 70z’s, weighs 190,000 pounds. They are manufactured by a German company, Putzmeister. In 1986 this company was responsible for the construction of the concrete sarcophagus around the graphite reactor at Chernobyl.
The 70z’s weigh so much they had to be transported by Russian Antonov’s, the world’s second-heaviest cargo planes. Previously used to transport the Russian space shuttle, the planes were specially sent from Russia to the US to pick up the hefty pumps. And where did these pumps come from in the US? From Los Angeles, CA and Atlanta, GA.
One of the pumps was pulled off of the construction site for the MOX-fuel fabrication facility being constructed by the French-government-owned company, Areva, at the US Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. To interrupt a $4.86 billion dollar project (already 5-years behind schedule and $3 billion over-budget) is unprecedented.
Obviously, arrangements were made at high levels of the US, French, Russian and Japanese governments for the deal to go through. What was particularly telling about the deal?
It was already in the works by the end of March. At a time, when the Japanese government and TEPCO were endlessly intoning about getting the stricken Fukushima reactors “under control,” already the giant concrete pumps were being readied for transport to Japan.
On March 31, a spokesman for the company providing concrete for the MOX Fuel facility, was quoted in the Augusta Chronicle, “Our understanding is, they are preparing to go to the next phase and it will require a lot of concrete.”
March 31? “A lot of concrete?”
Of course, it never did make sense that such huge pumps would be necessary for cooling purposes. (Albeit the amazing stretch of the 70-meter crane would reduce radiation exposure of workers, as would impressive remote-control features.)
But why the need for the giant behemoth pumps flown in by Russian super-cargo plane? After all this was the company that poured concrete for the 10-mile-long Gotthard Tunnel burrowing under the Alps, between Switzerland and Italy. The company that, after the 1989 California earthquake, rebuilt the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The company that built the world’s highest tower, the Burj Dubai.
And the only company in the world to have experience building a giant, nuclear- sarcophagus.
After the pumps arrived in Japan, a company spokesman was still saying the giant pumps were for cooling the Fukushima reactors. (For weeks a somewhat smaller pump, also a Putzmeister, was pouring water into the wrecked irradiated fuel pool of reactor no 4.)
When pressed by a CNN reporter, the spokesman admitted pouring concrete was a “plausible scenario.”
Throughout the disaster of the past five, going on six weeks, TEPCO, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Japanese government have seemed bumbling and inept to the point of absurdity. Behind the bland announcements, the silly re-assurances was a different reality: three-plus weeks ago, detailed, complicated plans were being made to stop some key work at the MOX fuel plant in South Carolina and arrange for the special transport of the immense concrete pumps to Japan.
What other secret plans are currently underway – that we will hear about a month from now, if we’re lucky?
What exactly is the proposed design for the sarcophagus or sarcophagi? Drawings up on the TEPCO site suggest a three-sided structure, one with a top and sides – but no bottom. That means the distinct possibility of melted fuel, if it is left on-site (as happened at Chernobyl), migrating downwards toward vital water tables and/or washing out to contaminate the sea. Toxins washing-down and out, continuously, for decades and decades and…
Japanese refugees in the required and voluntary evacuation zones, critics in the Japanese government, Japanese environmentalists, Tokyo residents, fishermen, abalone-divers, dairy farmers, agricultural workers and citizens of the world must demand more transparency regarding these critically important plans.
If the Fukushima clean-up project is left to the nuclear boys-in-the-back-room, the plan is bound to be contaminated. Contaminated by thinking distorted by the bottom-line – and warped by the desire to protect the nuclear industry.
Let’s not let that happen.
Mina Hamilton is a writer based in New York City. She is a contributor to several books including Critical Mass:Voices for a Nuclear-Free Future and Deadly Defense, an analysis of contamination issues at nuclear weapons facilities in the US. She can be reached at: minaham@aol.
QALQILIA — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the city of Qalqilia on Wednesday, detained citizens, and questioned them before handing six of them summonses to the intelligence headquarters.
Local sources said that IOF troops in four army vehicles entered the city in the company of an intelligence officer ad picked a number of young men at random and questioned them.
IOF soldiers arrested a Palestinian youth in Bardala village, east of Tubas city, at a roadblock on its entrance on Wednesday. They later burst into the village and stole the car of a 55-year-old Palestinian man before leaving the village. Similar roadblocks were installed east and west of Jenin city but no arrests were reported.
The soldiers in Awarta village installed electricity poles east of the village, its municipal council chairman Qaid Awad said in a radio statement. He added that the electricity poles would be used to supply power to a number of settlers’ caravans in addition to an army base to be pitched on 1000 dunums of village lands that were earlier confiscated. Awad warned that the IOA was planning to confiscate 4000 more dunums of the village land.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses in Burin village, south of Nablus, said that dozens of Jewish settlers entered the village in buses on Wednesday morning.
Locals warned of possible attacks after the settlers on Tuesday assaulted and wounded a farmer. The head of the municipal council in the village said that the settlers were planning to set up a settlement outpost south of Nablus near the village.
An Iraqi lawmaker has unveiled a secret US military initiative which he says is aimed at extending the presence of US troops in Iraq beyond December 2011.
Member of Iraqi Parliament’s Security & Defense Committee Qasim Mohammad Jalal said that the American officials have held secret meetings with Iraqi government authorities in an effort to pave the way for the US troops to stay past the deadline set in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), IRIB reported on Wednesday.
The Iraqi politician pointed out that the US administration has mounted pressure on Iraqi officials in order to prolong its presence in the country.
The SOFA agreement signed between the United States and the Iraqi government mandates that Washington withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of December 2011.
During his latest visit to Baghdad, US Defense Secretary Roberts Gates also signaled Washington’s willingness to extend its military presence in Iraq beyond December 31, 2011.
“I think there is interest in having a continuing presence, but the politics are such that we’ll just have to wait and see because the initiative ultimately has to come from the Iraqis,” Gates added.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, however, rejected Gates’ offer, reiterating that he expects all American troops to leave his country by the end of the year.
Currently, over 47,000 US troops are stationed in Iraq.