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US-Iraq security agreement set to be ratified
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 :The cabinet of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accepted the final draft of a bilateral security agreement with the United States on Sunday. The pact, which has been under negotiation for the best part of a year, was read to the Iraqi parliament the following day and will be put to the vote next Monday.
It is designed to replace the United Nations mandate that sanctioned the US occupation of Iraq and which expires on December 31.
The agreement is likely to be ratified. In the parliament, it is supported by the member-parties of the Shiite fundamentalist coalition—the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA)—which dominates Maliki's government. It is also supported by the Kurdish nationalist parties and by the Iraqi National List, a coalition headed by the party of Iyad Allawi, who was installed as interim Iraqi prime minister in 2004. Combined, these blocs have a majority in the 225-seat legislature.
The largest Sunni Arab-based grouping, the Iraqi Islamic Party, is still officially calling for a popular referendum to ratify the security agreement but is expected to use the week-long debate in parliament to fall into line and vote yes, in exchange for various political concessions and pay-offs.
The only significant opposition is coming from the Shiite movement led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which still has a broad following among the Shiite working class and urban poor. It is doubtful, however, that it will be able to garner sufficient parliamentary support to vote down the pact.Read More