White House: Iraq Agreement To Be Based On Afghanistan

The Bush administration plans to model the long-term agreement that it is currently negotiating with the Iraqi government on one the U.S. already has with Afghanistan, a senior administration official told the Crypt.

Congressional Democrats, including presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, have insisted that any agreement with Iraq that obligates U.S. troops to defend the country would require congressional approval. Top Senate Democrats have said that Bush does not have the authority to enter into such an agreement. The senior White House official said that the agreement, as it’s envisioned, would not need such approval as it would not obligate U.S. armed forces to Iraq’s defense.

Democrats have charged that by providing “security assurances and commitments to the Republic of Iraq to deter foreign aggression,” the agreement amounts to a treaty.

Previously, a separate senior administration official had said that negotiators “struggled” with that phrase’s translation from Arabic to English and that a better formulation would have been, “We’ll consult.”

The strategic agreement with Afghanistan, reached in 2005, uses such language, assuring the Afghans that the U.S. will “[c]onsult with respect to taking appropriate measures in the event that Afghanistan perceives that its territorial integrity, independence, or security is threatened or at risk.”