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The Permanent Base Plan Will. Not. Die.

July 31 is the stated goal for President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to ink a deal for an enduring U.S. occupation that neither the Iraqi people nor the American people desire. The deal has looked dead before, but the avarice of imperialism is a lot like a George Romero character. McClatchy and The Washington Post report that Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari forecasts smooth sailing. The Post:

Zebari, who recently returned from meetings with U.S. officials in Washington, said the United States had shown “a great deal of flexibility on many thorny issues.” In particular, he said, U.S. officials agreed to lift immunity for private security contractors, allowing them to be prosecuted under Iraqi law. The legal shields have enraged Iraqis, especially since 17 Iraqi civilians were killed last year in a shooting incident involving Blackwater Worldwide, a private security company.

McClatchy:

Zebari also said Iraq had insisted that any agreement be subject to annual review. “We are not talking about an agreement that binds Iraq for 25 years or 20 years or 10 years,” he added.

Several issues remain to be resolved, including who will control Iraq’s airspace and how many military bases the U.S. can utilize. President Bush has expressed a desire to conclude the agreement by July 31. Zebari indicated that there was still a lot of work to be done on the pact when he characterized the U.S. position as “we can keep our military presence in any country, without a legal framework.”

So that’s the plan: to wrap a permanent-occupation deal in the mantle of sovereignty. Hey, look, Zebari is saying, *we can review the deal once a year — probably won’t, since they’re keeping our friends wealthy and powerful, but whatevs — and they’re no longer going to let private contractors kill our people at will! *No wonder Zebari’s ally, Kurdish warlord/Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is trying to elect John McCain president.

Oh, and there’s this inconvenient fact, reported by McClatchy:

Separately, the U.S. military acknowledged that two Iraqi civilians were killed and nine wounded in southern Baghdad early Wednesday when a 4th Infantry Division 1st Brigade Combat Unit returned fire after insurgents launched rockets at American forces from the West Rashid district. Claiming self-defense, Col. Ted Martin of the 1st Brigade said it was “regrettable when the enemy chooses to use a neighborhood as a battleground.” He said his unit would investigate the incident “and will make restitution for any damage or injury caused by our actions.”

But the families of those victims are totally reassured by Zebari’s promise that the government will review the permanent-base deal annually.

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