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Last week, for the first time, two Iraqi members of Parliament (MPs) testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. They spoke bluntly.
"The anarchy and chaos in Iraq is linked to the presence of the occupation, not withdrawal from Iraq," Nadeem Al-Jaberi, an MP and co-founder of the Al-Fadhila party, testified.
Under questioning by Republican Congress members, Al-Jaberi repeatedly renounced the "success of the surge," and added, "What we strive for is establishing a balanced relationship between the two countries. But nothing of this could be made possible until the troops withdraw from Iraq."
In fact, Al-Jaberi told Truthout, not only do most Iraqis strongly oppose the kind of agreement that President Bush hopes to negotiate with Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, which would keep US troops in Iraq on a long-term basis; they see a complete troop withdrawal as a precursor to any diplomatic negotiation.
AMMAN, June 13 (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Friday talks with the United States on a long-term security pact were at a stalemate because of U.S. demands that encroached on Iraq's sovereignty.
The United States and Iraq are negotiating a new security deal to provide a legal basis for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq after Dec. 31, when their United Nations mandate expires, as well as a separate long-term agreement on political, economic and security ties between the two countries.
"We have reached a deadlock, because when we started the talks, we found that the U.S. demands hugely infringe on the sovereignty of Iraq, and this we can never accept," Maliki said, speaking in Arabic to journalists during a visit to Jordan.
The talks have been taking place behind closed doors. U.S. officials have refused to be drawn on their content other than to say the agreement will have no secret annexes and that it will be open to scrutiny by the Iraqi parliament.
In his first detailed comments on the talks, Maliki said Iraq objected to Washington's insistence on giving its troops immunity from prosecution in Iraq and freedom to conduct operations independent of Iraqi control.
"We can't extend the U.S. forces permission to arrest Iraqis or to undertake the responsibility of fighting terrorism in an independent way, or to keep Iraqi skies and waters open for themselves whenever they want," he said.
"One of the important issues that the U.S. is asking for is immunity for its soldiers and those contracting with it. We reject this totally."