Archive for the ‘Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’ Category

Iraqi prime minister courts Iran with demands on U.S. security deal

November 3, 2008

Iraq’s prime minister is pushing the idea that the U.S. departure is in sight in a bid to sell the security deal with Washington to Iran.

To reinforce the message, the Iraqis are asking for changes to the deal that would effectively rule out extending the U.S. military presence beyond 2011.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his allies also are describing the agreement not as a formula for long-term U.S.-Iraqi security cooperation — the original goal when the talks began this year — but as a way to manage the U.S. withdrawal.

It’s unclear whether this will be enough to win over the Iranians and Iraqi critics — or whether the U.S. will go along with the demands submitted by the Iraqi Cabinet last week.

The Iraqis want expanded Iraqi jurisdiction over U.S. troops and elimination of a clause that could allow the soldiers to stay past a tentative Dec. 31, 2011, deadline.

Iran opposes the agreement, fearing it could lead to U.S. troops remaining in a neighboring country indefinitely.

With Iranian sensitivities in mind, the Iraqis also want a ban on the U.S. using Iraqi territory to attack its neighbors — a demand that was reinforced by last Sunday’s U.S. raid against a suspected al-Qaeda hideout in Syria.

If Washington won’t bend, key Iraqi politicians think the deal will never win parliament’s approval. U.S. diplomats are studying the proposals, and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said a response is expected by Wednesday.

But some U.S. officials have privately expressed doubts about chances to reach an agreement before the U.N. mandate authorizing the U.S. mission expires at the end of next month.

Without an agreement or a new U.N. mandate, the U.S. military would have to suspend all security and assistance operations in Iraq.

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