IN Monday's Post, I discussed how Barack Obama, during his July trip, had asked Iraqi leaders not to finalize an agreement vital to the future of US forces in Iraq - and how the effect of such a delay would be to postpone the departure of the US from Iraq beyond the time Obama himself calls for.
The Obama campaign has objected. While its statement says my article was "filled with distortions," the rebuttal actually centers on a technical point: the differences between two Iraqi-US accords under negotiation - the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA, to set rules governing US military personnel in Iraq) and the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA, to settle the legal basis for the US military presence in Iraq in the months and years ahead).
The Obama camp says I confused the two. It continues: "On the Status of Forces Agreement, Sen. Obama has always said he hoped that the US and Iraq would complete it - but if they did not, the option of extending the UN mandate should be considered.
"As to the Strategic Framework Agreement, Sen. 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."
If there is any confusion, it's in Obama's position - for the two agreements are interlinked: You can't have any US military presence under one agreement without having settled the other accord. (Thus, in US-Iraqi talks, the aim is a comprehensive agreement that covers both SOFA and SFA.)