On November 17, 2008, Iraqi Secretary of State Hoshiyar Zebari and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker signed the agreement at an official ceremony. [32] Agreements on the state of the armed forces are used to define the rights and duties of military personnel operating on foreign land and detail everything from how soldiers wear their uniforms and carry weapons to the delivery of their mail. But the most common issue that is raised is the legal jurisdiction for foreign forces (PDF), says R. Chuck Mason, a legislative lawyer for the Congressional Research Service. Legal protection is particularly important for the U.S. military. According to a November 2003 Department of Defense directive, which defines the status of the Pentagon`s armed forces (PDF), the United States enters SOFAs to “protect personnel who could be prosecuted by foreign courts and detained in foreign prisons.” U.S. President George W. Bush welcomed the passage of the agreement between the two countries.

“The security agreement deals with our presence, our activities and our withdrawal from Iraq,” Bush said. He added that “this day seemed unlikely two years ago – but the success of the recovery and the courage of the Iraqi people laid the conditions for these two agreements to be negotiated and approved by the Iraqi parliament.” [38] NOTE: This link gives you a link that is no longer related to the documents themselves. Details of draft agreements began to be disclosed in early 2008, when U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker, who testified before Congress, confirmed that two separate agreements were on the table. The first, an agreement on the status of the armed forces, called sofa, would codify the legal protection of American military personnel and property in Iraq. Such agreements already govern U.S. military behavior in other long-term areas of intervention – including Germany, Japan and South Korea – and the government has called the SOFA talks in Iraq a promising step toward stability. The final version shows significant concessions from the United States. Thus, the Bush administration agreed to a total withdrawal from the United States.