The Status of Forces agreement that was signed by the United States and Iraq in 2008 is now under full implementation, as can be witnessed by the daily withdrawal of all American troops from the country. For Iraqis who have or are currently working with the United States, this presents a number of issues.
The first and most obvious one is that with the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country, these Iraqis have lost or will lose their means of employment. However, it also means that these Iraqis will abruptly be forced to try and reintegrate into their former communities, where some may be the target of discrimination and potential death. Indeed, many Iraqis who have already been laid off and had their bases closed down are now on the run and hiding from militants.
Another potential issue, and one that a great many Iraqis who have contacted us fear, is that their employment records will be used by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and security forces to hunt them down after the United States fully withdraws. This fear is not without merit. Article 10 of the Status of Forces agreement, which deals with contracting procedures, stipulates that the United States “should inform Iraqi authorities of the Iraqi contractors and suppliers and the value of their contracts.” This is essentially for tax purposes, but the new Iraqi government and security forces have had a history of infiltration by militant elements, which leads some to worry that the info could easily fall into the wrong hands.
After the initial invasion of Iraq and the re-building of its government, many groups infiltrated the Iraqi government and security forces, seeking to use their positions to go after their enemies. One glaring instance of this was the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq’s Badr Brigade, which had infiltrated the Interior ministry and operated death squads which sought out Iraqi Sunnis.
The fear is that today in Iraq this same cycle is repeating itself. There have been reports that the government of Nouri al-Maliki is absorbing remnants of the Sadrist Mahdi army into the Iraqi government. The Sadrists and Mahdi army have no love for Iraqis who have worked with the U.S., and recent rhetoric seems to indicate they may seek out these Iraqis in the future.
Whatever the case may be, Iraqis who have worked for the United states will carry with them the stigma of “traitor” or “collaborator.” “America” is still a dirty word in many parts of Iraq, and will be for some time.