After weeks of contentious debate, the Iraqi parliament approved the long-delayed security pact “that lays out a three-year timetable for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.” The New York Times reports:
For Iraq and the United States, the pact’s passage through Parliament by a large majority — more than 140 of some 200 lawmakers present voted in favor — marks a watershed moment, heralding an increase in Iraqi sovereignty over American and other foreign troops on its soil. […]
The pact gives Iraq considerable say in what operations American troops can undertake in the country, and sets limits on the Americans’ ability to search homes and buildings, and hold suspects that they detain.
Peter Juul, a Research Associate at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, recently argued that despite the Bush administration’s claims, the SOFA includes treaty obligations and therefore requires congressional approval. In the weeks leading up to the pact’s approval, the Bush administration refused to release an English-language version of the proposed agreement. The text of the agreement is now available HERE.
The pact calls for Iraqis to ratify the agreement through a national referendum. “If voters rejected the agreement in the July 2009 referendum, Iraq’s government would have to cancel SOFA or demand changes to it. The terms of the agreement allow either side to give the other a year’s notice of cancellation, so if Iraq scrapped the pact, U.S. forces would have to leave the country in July 2010.”