The Legal Quagmire Of SOFA
Jul 27, 2009 at 17:51
Christopher Albon in War & Peace, insurgency, law, legitimacy, sovereignty

Last Tuesday an American force traveling in a suburb of Baghdad was attacked by insurgents. The Americans defended themselves and pursued the attackers, in the process killing three Iraqi bystanders. Later, an Iraqi government force arrived at the scene and wanted to arrest the Americans for firing indiscriminately. The American commander talked down the Iraqis and on Saturday Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the Iraqi officer's actions "out of line". However, the anonymous 'Gunslinger' on the new counterinsurgency blog Ink Spots thinks the incident is a bad omen:

"This is an incident that shows that both sides don't interpret the rules the same and that could (let's emphasize that word) cause an incident that won't end as well as this one did. It creates an environment that is conducive to problematic encounters. If an IA captain wants to arrest some US soldiers, well, let's just say that I'm pretty sure that my soldiers when I was in Iraq would have not let that happen. I'm not sure I would let it happen if I was in command and felt I had engaged as a response in self-defense. How do the folks on the ground difuse the situation? I don't have answer for that, but it will be a lot of angry people with guns on the scene."

I am not an expert on counterinsurgency nor the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), so I leave it up to readers to decide. Will this be an isolated incident or a preview for things to come?

Article originally appeared on The Complex Terrain Laboratory (/index.html).
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