Iraq deal with US to end immunity for foreign contractors
By Patrick Cockburn in Washington
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
The US has accepted that foreign contractors in Iraq will no longer have immunity from Iraqi law under a new security agreement now under negotiation, says the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari.
Mr Zebari, speaking to The Independent in Washington, said that if there was a further incident like the one in which 17 Iraqis were killed by workers from the Blackwater security company in Baghdad last September, the Iraqis would arrest and punish the contractors held responsible.
Critics of the agreement in Iraq see the powers being demanded by the US, such as the use of 58 bases, the freedom of the US to carry out operations and arrests without consulting the Iraqi government, and the immunity of US troops, as compromising Iraqi independence. They have denounced the deal as ominously similar to the Anglo-Iraqi treaty of 1930 under which Iraq was nominally independent but Britain retained bases and covert control.