by RAY FLEMING
AS allegations against US forces in Iraq mount by the day, it is not only the American army and government that is in deep trouble. Iraq's new prime minister, Mr al-Maliki, who only a week ago was receiving plaudits from Washington and London for forming a government of national unity, is under pressure from various quarters in Iraq to make more effective protests about the conduct of American troops. This helps to explain Mr al-Maliki's outburst yesterday when he said that Americans “do not respect Iraqi people”, that atrocities against Iraqi people are “a daily phenomenon”, and that Americans “crush people with their vehicles and arrest them for no reason”. The new Iraqi government is now undertaking its own inquiries into killings thought to have been caused by US forces and has been promised co-operation. However, this development has led to an extremely awkward and potentially explosive question: could an American GI be arrested and tried by an Iraqi court? An army spokesman said that no “status of forces agreement” exists with the new government, a situation that could lead to endless and potentially dangerous misunderstandings. The decision of the US Army to give refresher courses in “core values” will not change much. While killing of innocent civilians cannot be condoned there should also be recognition of the appalling pressures put on immature young men in Iraq on a mission they should never have had to undertake.

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