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Nov-16-2008 20:58printcomments

U.S. Troops Will Stay in Iraq Three More Years

The United States will remain in Iraq for the next three years, but they will withdraw to major bases by 2009.

A U.S. Amy 101st Airborne Staff Sergeant named Ryan Ahern stands near an outpost displaying the Iraqi flag. Salem-News.com photo by Tim King
A U.S. Amy 101st Airborne Staff Sergeant named Ryan Ahern stands near an outpost displaying the Iraqi flag. Salem-News.com photo by Tim King

(BAGHDAD, Iraq) - Some world news sources are announcing that a goal of attaining an American-free Iraq by 2011 has been approved. Others are relaying the message that the U.S. has essentially received permission from the Iraqi government to stay for three more years. Like all aspects of this war, it is largely a matter of how you look at it.

The Iraqi cabinet gave strong approved to a security pact today that allows the American military presence in Iraq to continue for up to three more years. The overcoming protests

Pressures from hard-line Shiite nationalists and Iran appeared at one point as though they would stall the pact, which is expected to go before the parliament for final approval by the end of November.

The election of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is being seen as a deciding factor in the negotiations, and that goes back to his promise to withdraw troops within 16-months of taking office.

The pact addressed key revisions on sovereignty issues that affect Iraq. The country's highest-ranking Shiite religious figure, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, indicated over the weekend he would go along with this sweeping deal.

It is specified in the pact that US units will withdraw from Iraq's cities by June 2009, with the last units and personnel to follow in a countrywide pullout by the end of 2011. The new deal takes the heat off U.S. diplomats who have been pressing to conclude the matter before a United Nations mandate allowing U.S. forces to operate in Iraq expires at the end of this year.

An Iraqi CLC Checkpoint operated by The Sons of Iraq
due for closure. These have gone a long way toward
reducing violence in Iraq, and now almost half will close.
September 2008 Photo by Tim King

The matter is expected to receive passage in parliament, according to government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

"They all expressed a positive position because they consider it the best [agreement] possible, because it will manage and end the military presence and guarantee the complete withdrawal of the troops," Mr. Dabbagh said.

Iraq's problems are far from over. In fact, new problems are surfacing as U.S. funding for resources like the Sons of Iraq, who operate under the Sunni Awakening Councils, are drying up.

The Sunni insurgency in Iraq is alive and well, and its ranks soon could be filled with disgruntled Sunni members of these government-funded community policing forces who are losing their positions, and their incomes. It was reported that Iraq's first payments to the Sons of Iraq were made today, but that only accounts for about 55% of the Sons of Iraq members. The rest are out of luck.

The new pact allows something many Americans may not have expected; the agreement will allow Iraq to try U.S. soldiers and contractors for crimes under certain circumstances, particularly when they are off-base or off-duty. The pact also restricts the U.S. from using Iraq as a base from which to attack another country, such as Iran or Syria.




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