A Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation detailing the status of foreign military personnel in the host country. In the case of Iraq, the SOFA between the United States and Iraq was signed on November 17, 2008, and expired on December 31, 2011.
The SOFA was designed to provide a legal framework for U.S. troops stationed in Iraq after the end of the combat mission. It gave U.S. military personnel immunity from Iraqi prosecution for actions taken while on duty and allowed U.S. forces to conduct operations on Iraqi soil. It also established a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
However, the implementation of the SOFA was not without controversy. Critics argued that it undermined Iraqi sovereignty and perpetuated U.S. military involvement in the country. The SOFA was also criticized for its lack of clarity regarding the role of U.S. troops in Iraq and the extent of their immunity.
In 2011, the Iraqi government decided not to renew the SOFA, citing concerns over the immunity provisions and the need for Iraqi sovereignty. As a result, all U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year.
Since the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Iraq has experienced a series of political and security challenges. The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014 led to a renewed U.S. military presence in the country. In 2016, the U.S. and Iraqi governments signed a new agreement allowing U.S. troops to remain in the country to assist in the fight against ISIS.
The new agreement, known as the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA), does not include the same level of immunity for U.S. military personnel as the SOFA did. Instead, it focuses on partnership and cooperation between the U.S. and Iraq in a range of areas, including security, economics, and culture.
Overall, the status of forces agreement with Iraq has been a topic of controversy and debate. While the SOFA provided a legal framework for U.S. troops in Iraq, it was criticized for its lack of clarity and potential infringement on Iraqi sovereignty. The current SFA focuses on cooperation and partnership between the U.S. and Iraq, but does not provide the same level of immunity for U.S. military personnel. As Iraq continues to grapple with political and security challenges, the role of foreign military forces in the country remains a contentious issue.