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IRAQ’S CABINET APPROVED US SECURITY DEAL

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The Iraqi cabinet has approved, on Sunday 11/16/2008, a security pact with the US governing the future presence of 150,000 US troops in the country, officials have said.

Under the deal, US troops will withdraw from the streets of Iraqi towns next year, leaving Iraq by the end of 2011. The decision will need to go before Iraq’s parliament for a final vote (see – PARADOXICAL SITUATION ).

The pact is necessary to determine the role of USA military forces in Iraq after their UN mandate expires on 31 December 2008.

The UK government, which has 4,100 troops in Iraq, is also waiting for the USA-Iraqi pact to be approved so they can use it as a template for their own bi-lateral deal.

As the Iraqi cabinet met on Sunday, two bomb attacks, the sequentially fourth day (see – Baghdad 11.12.08 )- in Baghdad and Diyala province – killed at least 18 people and wounded many more (see – Diyala 09.24.08 ).  

– The agreement’s terms include:

1. Placing US forces in Iraq under the authority of the Iraqi government.

2. US forces will leave the streets of Iraq’s towns and villages by the middle of 2009

3. US forces will hand over their bases to Iraq during the course of 2009

4. US forces will lose the authority to raid Iraqi homes without an order from an Iraqi judge and permission of the government.

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In a statement, US National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the US hoped for a successful vote in the Iraqi parliament:

Iraqi politicians believe the deal will give the government more power over US troops and will allow the Iraqi military more time to develop into an effective security force.

The agreement is set to be submitted to Iraq’s parliament later, but it is not clear when the body will vote on it. It then needs to be ratified by Iraq’s presidential council before Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can sign the deal with US President George W Bush.

PM Nouri al-Maliki has been trying to build support for the amended pact and the main Shiaa, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and Kurdish alliances in parliament have recently agreed to back it.

The cleric is highly influential in Iraq’s Shiaa community. Any public criticism of the pact by him would probably have stopped it winning parliamentary approval, our correspondent says.

The pact has drawn fire from pro-Iranian hardliner nationalists, especially Iraq’s influential Shiaa cleric, Moqtada Sadr, whose supporters have called for mass demonstrations to oppose any agreement with the US “occupier” (see – Sadr-protest 11.14.08 ).

 

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