Thursday, November 27, 2008

SOFA conditionally approved

The Iraqi Parliament has approved the Status of Force Agreement, which sets the timetable for withdrawal of American troops, who are to stay in Iraq through 2011. It seems the concessions that Sunnis demanded yesterday, such as amnesty for Baath related crimes and the release of 16 000 Sunni prisoners was not mentioned today. Maybe they have been dropped or maybe there were some back-door deals that were done to ensure Sunni's support.

But there will be a referendum on SOFA in July 2009. If the Iraqis vote no, then the Americans will have one year to get out of the country under the terms of the deal, which incidentally would fit almost exactly with Barack Obama's proposed timetable. So we might not have a definitive timetable for withdrawal, but it will be either a year and a half from now or a bit more.

Sadr is opposing the deal, but he was not strong enough to torpedo it. We will see if his faction can convince the population in a few months.

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