Iraq Correspondent Patrick Cockburn on the
US-Iraqi Clash Over the Status of US Troops
The Bush administration is leveraging tens of billions of dollars in seized Iraqi assets to force the Iraqi government to accept several demands in a long-term deal on keeping US troops in Iraq. The demands have included maintaining fifty-eight permanent military bases in Iraq, immunity for American troops and contractors, a free hand to conduct military operations without Iraqi approval and control of Iraqi airspace. We speak to journalist Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent, who broke the story last week.
Patrick Cockburn is Middle East correspondent for the London Independent and author of several books. the latest is called Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival and the Struggle for Iraq.
Mr. Maliki told reporters during a visit to Jordan Friday that talks between the two sides are deadlocked because of U.S. demands that infringe on Iraq's sovereignty. He called the demands unacceptable.
U.S. and Iraqi officials have been negotiating a deal to allow American forces to remain in Iraq beyond December 31, when their United Nations mandate expires.
Separately, Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said his Mahdi Army militia will continue to resist U.S.-led forces, but that fighting will be limited to a select group of his choosing. He made the statement after Friday prayers in the Shi'ite city of Kufa.
In other news, the U.S. military said coalition forces detained 18 suspected al-Qaida in Iraq militants in operations throughout the country since Thursday.
A military statement said coalition troops captured two of the suspected terrorists in separate raids Friday north of Baghdad, while detaining four others in the northern city of Mosul.
The military says one of its detainees is a man suspected of having ties to an al-Qaida in Iraq bombing network in the Tigris River Valley.
Some information for
this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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