AAM: "The government that started this war has all but ended America's capability to fight that war by signing this agreement."
Michael was on American Morning to discuss the formal end of the SoFA negotiations -- the Presidential Council signed the agreement, as was expected. He lays out some of the details that will tie the hands of the next administration and give the Iraqi government full control of the war.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: 47 days now until the transition of power. And this morning, a brand new CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows most Americans think President-elect Barack Obama has picked the right people to help him run the country. 75 percent approve of his cabinet appointments and just 22 percent disapprove.
Well, we're also getting some breaking news this morning that the presidential council in Iraq has signed on to the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement. That's the final step which would pave the way for American troops to be out of that country within three years' time.
President Jalal Talabani and his two deputies signed that piece of paper just a little while ago. Our Michael Ware is live in Baghdad this morning to talk more about the significance of all of this.
And Michael, the first question that I have is, they have finally hammered out the security arrangement, but in 47 days we get a new president. Is it expected that President Barack Obama's orders, whatever he issues, will supersede this agreement?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly the incoming administration will be considered to be bound by this administration, the Bush administration. Indeed, the government that started this war has all but ended America's capability to fight that war by signing this agreement. And President-elect Obama will be expected by all and sundry to live up to that.
Now, President-elect Obama will be able to draw his troops down as he sees fit, whether he listens to his commanders, as he says, or not, under the terms of this agreement. And indeed, the Iraqis have insisted, despite what Washington originally wanted, that all American troops will be out in three years regardless. No questions, no negotiations. And it's up to the Iraqis, not to Washington.
Now, what we've seen today is that the Iraqi Presidency Council -- that's the president and the two vice presidents -- have ratified the agreement. The real move to creating this arrangement was passed last week in the Iraqi parliament, their version of Congress.
Once they passed this agreement, that was it. So this is more or less a rubber-stamp. The next big step is to see how this is going to be implemented. And as Lieutenant General Austin, one of the American -- second most senior American commanders here in Iraq, said yesterday, this is the end of American combat operations on their own. From here on, the Iraqis are in the driver's seat in this war and they're going to be able to, in so many ways, take control and guide the actions of U.S. combat troops -- John.
ROBERTS: We should remind people, Michael, that President-elect Barack Obama's plans would have U.S. forces out of there by about June or July of 2010, so that would leave about an 18-month buffer before this agreement would demand that they all be out.
But what about this idea that President Bush talked about in his State of the Union Address this past year where he said that there may be a residual force left in Iraq in a long-term security arrangement with the Iraqi government, sort of a garrison force, very similar to what the United States has either in Germany or in South Korea? Is that now off the table or could they sign an ancillary agreement that would provide for some sort of lingering garrison force?
WARE: Yes. Well, certainly, in terms of the agreement that stands at the moment, Washington, the Pentagon, the White House were out-maneuvered by the Iraqis. There's absolutely no provision for any kind of residual or garrison force.
There isn't any hope for a Japan post-World War II, a South Korea, a Germany. The Iraqi government said it doesn't want that. And indeed, in one of the crucial clauses of this agreement, there was a small door that was being kept open to say, the next Iraqi government could look to extend this agreement or could alter it.
Well, certain factions within the Iraqi government here related to Iran made it very clear that that clause had to be dropped, and it was. So it's non-negotiable. The decision for now is out of the American president's hands. He's being dictated to by the Iraqi government -- John.
ROBERTS: Michael Ware for us this morning in Baghdad with all that. Michael, thanks so much. It's now coming up on seven minutes after the hour.