US Official: GIs to Leave if Iraq Won’t Sign Pact

by Jason Ditz, November 19, 2008

The Iraqi parliament continues to debate the contentious Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States which would govern the operation of US forces in Iraq when the current UN mandate expires at the end of the year. Both the Iraqi and US governments had previously been reported to be exploring approaching the UN Security Council to extend the mandate if the SOFA was not agreed to in time. Now, the US seems to be taking that option entirely off the table, in a sign they are putting even more pressure on Iraq’s parliament to OK the SOFA as presently worded.

State Department adviser David Satterfield is quoted in the Iraqi press as saying the United States not only isn’t exploring an extension, they would reject the extension of the UN mandate and would withdraw all troops from Iraq if the Iraqis don’t approve the SOFA.

Though the latest draft of the SOFA appears to have at least a chance of passing through parliament, the US has resorted several times to extreme threats in an attempt to prod them into quicker action. Still, with Iraq’s military saying it is ready to replace the US forces and US commanders warning President-elect Obama that getting the troops out even if 16-months is “physically impossible” it is unclear how credible the threat of an abrupt US pullout will be.

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