After hours of wrangling, Iraq's top
political parties agreed to postpone debate on a new military pact with
the United States, intended to replace a U.N. mandate which expires on
December 31, until tomorrow. Edward Yeranian reports for VOA from Cairo.
was a day of behind the scenes wrangling and public posturing by many
Iraqi political leaders, ending with the Iraqi parliament session to
approve the new military pact between Baghdad and the United States
postponed until tomorrow. Members of parliament had already begun to
arrive for the vote, so the last minute decision came as a surprise.
National Security Advisor Muwafaq al Rubaie told Al Arabiya TV that the
government is seeking a national consensus over the accord, and not
just a simple majority, so the postponement is a positive development.
also stressed that the government is trying to allay fears of various
Iraqi factions over what would happen once the U.S. withdraws from the
country, and that a referendum would be held in July of 2009 to
determine if the U.S. was living up to its part of the agreement.
member of parliament from Iraq's mostly Sunni Islamic Party, which has
long opposed the U.S. presence in Iraq, told Iraqi TV that his party
still opposes the accord, because it doesn't live up to the aspirations
of most Iraqis.
Shi'ite factions, including that of Muqtada Sadr, who has 30 members in
parliament, have also been trying to obstruct the accord.
ruling Shi'ite United Iraq party, along with the Kurdish Alliance kept
trying, until the last minute, to make concessions to Sunni Arab
parties, in hopes of attaining a large majority to approve the military
Minister Hoshyar Zebari stressed that certain Iraqi parties were "also
attempting to extract concessions from the government over internal
political issues, before they would vote to approve the pact."
of parliament Sirwan Zahawi of the Kurdish Alliance argued that the new
military pact is in the best interests of Iraq, and despite some
reservations, his group supports it.
said that the Kurdish Alliance has supported the new pact from the
outset, and despite some minor reservations, he believes that the
agreement is in the best interests of Iraq and that the positives
outweigh the negatives.
of parliament Abbas Bayati, of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's United
Iraq party also defended the accord, insisting that it had achieved
most of the demands of those who are now opposing it.
said that the agreement gives Iraqis the assurance that the U.S. will
withdraw from their country and that Iraq will once again become a
sovereign country. He added that the most important thing, now, is to
come up with a united position in favor of the agreement. The
government has listened to those who object to the accord, he argued,
answering most of their demands.
satellite TV al Iraqia interviewed ordinary Iraqis and most appeared to
approve of the new military pact with the United States. A young Iraqi
professor told al Iraqia that all sides were entitled to their point of
view, but that the agreement is in the best interests of the country.
Iraqi opponents of the accord, he said, demanded a timetable for the
withdrawal of US troops, and now they have one. He added that those
parties who continue to oppose the agreement are talking from both
sides of their face because the new agreement gives them everything
that they say they wanted. The positive aspects of the agreement, he
concluded, outweigh the negative.
had been expecting a narrow majority in parliament to approve the new
military pact, which allows U.S. and coalition forces to remain in Iraq
until the end of 2011.