London, June 5 : US President George W Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors in order to keep Iraq under control for an indefinite period.
The Independent reported that a secret deal is being negotiated in Baghdad that would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.
The Iraqi government wants to delay the actual signing of the agreement, but the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney has been trying to force it through. US Ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, has spent weeks trying to secure the accord.
The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq.
Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.
The accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so that he can declare a military victory and claim that his 2003 invasion has been vindicated.
The timing of the agreement would also serve as a boost to Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has claimed that the US is on the verge of victory in Iraq -- a victory that he says his Democratic presidential rival Senator Barak Obama could throw away through a premature military withdrawal.
The US has repeatedly denied it wants permanent bases in Iraq, but one Iraqi source said: "This is just tactical subterfuge."
Washington also wants control of Iraqi airspace below 29,000 feet and the right to pursue its "War on Terror" in Iraq, giving it the authority to arrest anybody it wants and to launch military campaigns without consultation, the source added.