The issue of the US intention to keep troops in Iraq’s cities in spite of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) requiring that they leave by the end of June and despite opposition from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is much ado about nothing, officials insist.
US and Iraqi officials are now saying that Maliki’s statements are meant “for public consumption,” and that he is “fully aware of the need for a US presence in those places.” US military officials have been saying for months that the deadline was unlikely to be met, but the dramatic increase in violence across the nation over the past two months has added to speculation that the US might ultimately keep significant numbers of troops in several cities, including the capital of Baghdad.
The clash over the June 30 deadline has been rather more vocal in recent weeks, with Maliki publicly saying over the weekend that the troop pullout would not harm security and US commander General Ray Odierno confirming that, depsite objections, some number of troops would remain in Baghdad and Mosul. Gen. Odierno was decidedly curt when asked about the insurgency, declaring “it’s not going to end, OK?”
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