Iraq and their new government are finally getting the hang of their Arab democracy. The SOFA has been approved by a substantial majority, laying out the transfer of the nation’s security from the US to Iraq over the next three years.
US coalition forces will be leaving the urban areas by June 2009, with complete withdrawal by Jan 2012. What is not clear is if the US or Iraq may attempt, or have the options to be flexible with events on the ground.
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.
U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and Gen. Ray Odierno, the top American commander in Iraq, welcomed the Iraqi parliament’s approval of the pact, which is divided into two agreements governing security, economics, culture and other areas of cooperation.
“Taken together, these two agreements formalize a strong and equal partnership between the United States and Iraq,” they said in a statement. “They provide the means to secure the significant security gains we have achieved together and to deter future aggression.”
The vote had been delayed by one day because of the disputes among the political factions, which have hampered reconciliation efforts after years of war.
Expect the left spin machine to go into full gear, attempting to lay this accomplishment at the feet of their President-elect. But the Bush plan all along as been to return security of Iraq to the Iraqis when they were capable of defending and governing themselves. For the battling factions to have come to agreement, and compromise, on their issues with the SOFA is a positive step forward in that new nation’s progress.
Lawmakers voted with a show of hands, and an exact breakdown of the parliamentary vote was not immediately available. But parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said an “overwhelming majority” of lawmakers who attended the session voted in favor. Parliament’s secretariat, which counted lawmakers as they entered the chamber, said 220 out of 275 legislators attended.
“This is a historic day for parliament,” said Deputy Speaker Khalid al-Attiyah, a close ally of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. “More than three-quarters of those present at today’s session voted for the agreement, and that was not expected.”
Al-Maliki appeared to have won the comfortable majority that he sought in order to give the agreement additional legitimacy.
The country’s most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, had indicated that the deal would be acceptable only if passed by a comfortable majority.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh urged those who opposed the agreement to accept the decision by the parliament.
“Iraqis should now feel that they have the control and they have to take the full responsibility” for security, he told Associated Press Television News. “Even those who reject this share the responsibility in order to reform the country and in order to stabilize the country.”
Sunni lawmakers, whose sectarian group dominated Iraq under Saddam but now struggles for influence with the Shiite-led government, said they were reluctant to support the security deal.
“Our conditional approval does not mean that we do not have reservations on many causes mentioned in the agreement and we do not have fear about the future implementation of the agreement,” said lawmaker Salim Abdullah, who is also a spokesman for the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, the 44-seat Iraqi Accordance Front.
There are a bloc of 30 lawmakers loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who staged a protest. The wanted the US to leave immediately…
Evidently, a request not shared by the majority of the lawmakers.
Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.