Friday, September 19, 2008

Ahmad Chalabi: U.S. wants secret bases in Iraq

Middle East Times, September 19, 2008

BAGHDAD, Sept. 19 (UPI) — Former Iraqi Deputy Premier Ahmad Chalabi told Iranian state-owned media Friday the United States is seeking to establish secret military bases in Iraq.

In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency, Chalabi, once a Washington favorite, said U.S. officials are trying to inject agreements for secret bases in Iraq as part of the long-term security contract slated to govern U.S.-Iraqi relations when the U.N. mandate there expires at the end of this year.

“Within the framework of the security pact, the United States does not wish to merely have open military bases (in Iraq), rather secret military bases (there),” he said.

He said negotiations on the deal were ongoing following the acceptance of a formal draft agreement in August but noted there were still contentious issues surrounding legal authority over U.S. military forces and the use of Iraq as a staging ground for the broader counter-terrorism effort.

Chalabi, who also served as the oil minister in 2005, said heightened diplomatic tensions between the United States and Russia made securing the deal a top priority for U.S. officials.

“If a security deal is not signed … by Dec. 31, regarding the recent U.S.-Russia row over Georgia and the Iraqi government’s decision not to extend the U.S. forces’ presence in Iraq for another year, the U.S. presence in Iraq will come across with difficulty in terms of the law,” he said.

A suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a convoy carrying Chalabi in early September, killing six of his bodyguards.

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