Iraqi parliament approves SOFA

IRAQI PARLIAMENT APPROVES SOFA…. Just 10 days ago, Iraq’s cabinet overwhelmingly approved a security agreement with the U.S. that calls for a withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 2011. The measure then went to the Iraqi Parliament for approval, but success was not a given.

As it turns out, it passed rather easily.

Iraq’s parliament approved Thursday a security pact with the United States that lets American troops stay in the country for three more years.

The vote in favor of the pact was backed by the ruling coalition’s Shiite and Kurdish blocs as well as the largest Sunni Arab bloc, which had demanded concessions for supporting the deal.

The breakdown of the 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.

An AFP report added:

The vote came after a flurry of last-minute negotiations in which the main Sunni parties secured a package of political reforms from the government and a commitment to hold a referendum on the pact in the middle of next year.

Should the Iraqi government decide to cancel the pact after the referendum it would have to give Washington one year’s notice, meaning that troops would be allowed to remain in the country only until the middle of 2010.

It prompted Spencer Ackerman to respond, “That would be … give or take a few days … why, sixteen months after Barack Obama takes office! Happy Thanksgiving from Baghdad, Barack!”