Iraqi cabinet approves security agreement with firm 2011 withdrawal deadline.

After nearly one year of negotiations, the Iraqi cabinet voted “overwhelmingly” Sunday to approve a security agreement requiring “coalition forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by the summer of 2009 and from the country by the end of 2011,” the New York Times reports. “An earlier version had language giving some flexibility to that deadline…but the Iraqis managed to have the deadline set in stone, a significant negotiating victory.” Earlier this month, the Times reported that Barack Obama’s victory spurred the Iraqi political process toward finalizing a withdrawal agreement. In the words of one Iraqi politician:

“Before, the Iraqis were thinking that if they sign the pact, there will be no respect for the schedule of troop withdrawal by Dec. 31, 2011,” said Hadi al-Ameri, a powerful member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a major Shiite party. “If Republicans were still there, there would be no respect for this timetable. This is a positive step to have the same theory about the timetable as Mr. Obama.”


Spencer Ackerman: “The Bush administration intended the SOFA process to entrench the occupation. Instead it gave the Iraqi government the means to end it. And that’s the best-possible way for the war to end: with the Iraqi government — the one we’ve disingenuously told the world we’re in Iraq to support — showing its political maturation to get us out the day after tomorrow. And out actually means out. The SOFA demands that every last U.S. serviceman is on a plane by December 31, 2011. Obama’s plan for a 30,000-troop residual force? Officially overtaken by events. As I say, the impact of this appears not to have sunken in. The Iraqis have forced an end to the war.”