First Published: 2008-02-13

US troops to stay in Iraq beyond 2008

US Secretary of State, Defense Secretary say 2008 is year of ‘critical transition’ in Iraq.


Middle East Online

'We seek to set the basic parameters for US presence in Iraq’

WASHINGTON - US forces will remain in Iraq beyond the end of 2008, but a continued US troop presence will not tie the hands of a future US president, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in a newspaper column Wednesday.

"It is clear ... that US forces will need to operate in Iraq beyond the end of this year for progress in stabilizing Iraq to continue," the top US diplomatic and military officials wrote in The Washington Post.

"The current UN authorization expires at the end of this year, and Iraq has indicated that it will not seek an extension. It would rather have an arrangement that is more in line with what typically governs the relationships between two sovereign nations," Gates and Rice added in their jointly written article ahead of hearings in the House and Senate at which each were to give testimony Wednesday. Gates however cancelled his planned appearance after falling and spraining a shoulder.

Still the two US officials argued that in Washington's view the current year is one of "critical transition" in Iraq.

"To continue the success we have seen in recent months, the Iraqi people and government will continue to need our help. Iraqis have requested a normalized relationship with us, and such a relationship will be part of a foundation ... upon which future US administrations can build," Gates and Rice wrote.

Their comments come ahead of talks bringing together diplomats, security experts and military officials.

"In these negotiations, we seek to set the basic parameters for the US presence in Iraq, including the appropriate authorities and jurisdiction necessary to operate effectively and to carry out essential missions," Rice and Gates wrote.

"In addition, we seek to establish a basic framework for a strong relationship with Iraq, reflecting our shared political, economic, cultural and security interests."

"Nothing to be negotiated will mandate that we continue combat missions. Nothing will set troop levels. Nothing will commit the United States to join Iraq in a war against another country or provide other such security commitments. And nothing will authorize permanent bases in Iraq (something neither we nor Iraqis want)," they added in newspaper article.

"In short, nothing to be negotiated in the coming months will tie the hands of the next commander in chief, whomever he or she may be.

They continued: "Quite the contrary, it will give the president the legal authority to protect our national interest -- and the latitude to chart the next administration's course."


Iraq forces fight to tighten noose around Mosul

In Syria, Kurds restore ancient names to Arabised towns

UN call to extend Yemen truce falls on deaf ears

Turkey reports over 35,000 people in detention after coup attempt

In violation of constitution, Iraq parliament votes to ban alcohol

Turkey hits Kurdish group in Syria again

Kremlin aims to 'liberate' Syria with Assad in power

Egypt court upholds 20-year sentence for Morsi

Turkey PM warns EU: Turkey has alternatives!

Battles rage in Yemen despite three-day truce

For second day, Iraq forces clash with ISIS in Kirkuk

New report accuses Syria of chemical attack in Qmenas village

Islamic Jihad stages show of force in Gaza

UN says 'crimes' in Aleppo are 'of historic proportions'

IS sniper kills Iraqi journalist in Kirkuk

US official says coalition should target IS in Raqa after Mosul

Moscow extends Aleppo ceasefire

Italy PM says officials should have voted against UNESCO Jerusalem resolution

Syrian ‘Toy Smuggler’ accused of fraud

UN: IS may use civilians as human shields in Mosul

Armed men attack refugee boat off Libya

US says will work with Turkey to deal IS 'lasting defeat'

Moscow ‘highly concerned’ at jihadists’ refusal to leave Aleppo

Four Palestinians arrested by their security forces for settlement visit

Mauritania president says no change to two-term limit

UN delays Aleppo evacuations due to lack of security assurances

Oman denies reports of arms smuggling to Yemen

Israel looking to buy three more German submarines

83 migrants rescued off Cyprus

Under pressure in Mosul, IS fighters attack Kirkuk

Air strikes hit Yemen rebels despite ceasefire

US officials: Iran boosting arms sales to Huthis via Oman

Iraq forces make gains against IS near Mosul

Arab coalition accuses Yemen rebels of breaching truce

Italian PM blocks EU sanctions threat against Russia over Aleppo

Pentagon chief in Turkey for talks on tensions with Iraq

Israeli occupation troops kill Palestinian teenager

Iraqis flee IS-held Mosul for war-torn Syria

Five years after his death, Kadhafi's 'Green Book' is ridiculed in Libya

Iraq issues warrant for former governor of Mosul

EU leaders threaten sanctions against Assad allies

Syria army urges residents to evacuate Aleppo during ceasefire

British warships shadow Syria-bound Russian naval force

Turkey unexpectedly keeps interest rate steady

British PM urges united EU response to Russia over Syria 'atrocities'