Sunday, November 16, 2008

Iraq cabinet approves security pact with U.S.

The Iraqi cabinet has approved a security pact with the U.S. after a two-and-a-half hour meeting, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Iraq and the United States have been negotiating a deal covering the future of U.S. forces in Iraq—their UN mandate is up on Dec. 31, 2008. There are now some 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and tens of thousands of contractors, many of whom perform military tasks.

Reportedly, all but one of the 28 ministers present voted in favour of the pact, which was scheduled to be submitted to Iraq’s parliament later today for a vote. It must then be ratified by Iraq’s presidential council. Should all that happen, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and U.S. President George W Bush can sign the deal.

Under the deal, US troops will withdraw from the streets of Iraqi towns next year, leaving Iraq by the end of 2011.

Terms of the agreement include:

  • placing US forces in Iraq under the authority of the Iraqi government;
  • US forces to leave the streets of Iraq's towns and villages by the middle of 2009;
  • US forces to hand over their bases to Iraq during the course of 2009;
  • US forces to lose the authority to raid Iraqi homes without an order from an Iraqi judge and permission of the government.

A key issue was Iraqi jurisdiction over US troops and contractors. This seems to be resolved with the agreement that a joint committee will decide if Americans who commit crimes outside U.S. bases should face Iraqi justice.

This sounds to me very much like a deal with which president-elect Barack Obama can live.

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