US planning open-ended military commitment in Iraq: report

Published: Monday April 7, 2008

A draft agreement between the United States and Iraq shows that the two countries are including a provision for an open-ended American military commitment to the war-torn country, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

Citing a copy of the draft strategic framework agreement dated March 7 that it obtained, the newspaper said that the document is designed to replace the current United Nations mandate, which expires at the end of the year.

According to The Guardian, the agreement allows the United States to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security" without including a time limit.

It also does not put any limits on the number of American forces allowed in Iraq, the weapons they can use, the legal status of US troops in Iraq or the powers they hold over Iraqi citizens.

The document states it is "in the mutual interest of the United States and Iraq that Iraq maintain its sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence and that external threats to Iraq be deterred."

"Accordingly, the US and Iraq are to consult immediately whenever the territorial integrity or political independence of Iraq is threatened."

It also includes the agreement that the "US does not seek to use Iraq territory as a platform for offensive operations against other states."

News of the document comes just hours before General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, and US ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker testify on the progress in the war before two Senate committees.

Rival Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have promised to start pulling American forces out of Iraq, plans that have drawn criticism from the Republican candidate John McCain.