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Stretching the rules in Iraq
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Christian Science Monitor

Christian Science Monitor, May 19, 2009
Posted: July 26th, 2009

On a map of Baghdad, the US Army's Forward Operating Base Falcon is clearly within city limits. Except that Iraqi and American military officials have decided it's not. As the June 30 deadline for US soldiers to be out of Iraqi cities approaches, there are no plans to relocate the roughly 3,000 American troops who help maintain security in south Baghdad along what were the fault lines in the sectarian war. "We and the Iraqis decided it wasn't in the city," says a US military official. The base on the southern outskirts of Baghdad's Rasheed district is an example of the fluidity of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreed to late last year, which orders all US combat forces out of Iraqi cities, towns, and villages by June 30. Although the mission for most brigades and battalions is not expected to substantially change after June 30, US military officials have stopped using the term forward operating base in favor of the more benign-sounding contingency operating site. The SOFA and a wider strategic framework agreement set out a relationship between the US and Iraq very different from that of the military occupation of the past six years. One of the challenges of that new relationship is how the US can continue to wield influence on key decisions without being seen to do so. "For so long we have been one of the driving forces here ... it is such a hard habit to break," says a senior US State Department official. "I think we need to do everything we can not to make ourselves an issue. It has to be seen here as doing it quietly ... so that you are not doing things for the Iraqis, the Iraqis are doing things for themselves but with your help and we remain in the shadows.... It's a very delicate choreography," adds the State Department official.

Note: For a trove of revealing reports on the deceptive strategies used by the US to advance its wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, click here.

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