In an opinion piece published by the New York Post in September, I drew public attention to Senator Barack Obama's attempt to interfere with negotiations between Iraq and the United States regarding the presence of American troops and future defence co-operation between the two countries. I argued that by trying to undercut the incumbent president, Obama had broken a golden rule of American politics and manifested either his naïveté in matters of diplomacy or, worse still, a remarkable degree of cynicism.
At first, the Obama camp tried to ignore the whole matter. However, when it became clear that the issue was attracting massive public interest, it reacted in three ways.
The first was to confirm what I said, but to claim that I had confused the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA). Both agreements are still being negotiated by Washington and Baghdad. SOFA provides the legal basis between the two countries for the continued presence and operation of US armed forces in Iraq after the UN Security Council mandate expires on 31 December. The SFA covers the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
The claim was that Obama had supported the former and opposed the latter. A day after my op-ed piece was published, Obama's campaign issued a statement, in effect confirming what I had said.
It said, in part, "Senator Obama has consistently said that any security arrangements that outlast this administration should have the backing of the US Congress - especially given the fact that the Iraqi parliament will have the opportunity to vote on it."
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