Iraqi parliament approves security pack leading to US troop exit in 3 years

November 27, 2008

BAGHDAD (ChattahBox) -– Iraq’s parliament approved a security pact with the United States on Thursday that will have American troops staying in the country for three more years and setting a clear timetable for a U.S. exit for the first time since the 2003 invasion took place. Under the agreement, U.S. forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30 and the entire country by Jan. 1, 2012. Iraq will have strict oversight over U.S. forces.

The vote in favor of the pact was backed by the ruling coalition’s Shiite and Kurdish blocs as well as the largest Sunni Arab bloc, which had demanded concessions for supporting the deal. The haggling among the political factions highlighted sectarian-based tensions that hinder reconciliation efforts, nearly six years after Saddam Hussein’s ouster.

The Shiite and Kurdish blocs agreed to a Sunni demand for a national referendum on the pact by July 30, meaning the deal must undergo an additional hurdle next year. But the Sunnis did not get two concessions: the repeal of a law designed to weed out former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party, and the dissolution of a special court that tried the dictator and top officials of his regime. Saddam was sentenced to death and executed in 2006.

Parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said an “overwhelming majority” of lawmakers who attended the session voted in favor by a show of hands. Parliament’s secretariat, which counted lawmakers as they entered the chamber, said 220 out of 275 legislators attended. Al-Maliki appeared to have won the comfortable majority that he sought in order to give the agreement additional legitimacy. The security deal must now be ratified by the three-member Presidential Council, which is expected to approve it. The security pact has been described by al-Maliki as a path toward full sovereignty.


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