Gates: US Troops Could Stay in Iraq Past Deadline

Gates: US Troops Could Stay in Iraq Past Deadline | Urges Iraqi govt to hurry up with request

Speaking on Thursday in Baghdad, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said US troops might well continue their presence in Iraq beyond the December 31 deadline mandated by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Gates said such a presence needed an official request by the Iraqi government.

At which point Secretary Gates urged the Iraqi government to “get on with it pretty quickly,” saying that there was a strong interest in a continued US military presence, but domestic Iraqi politics were stalling the request from the Maliki government.

The Iraqi coalition government includes a number of members, particularly the bloc loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, strongly opposed to the continuation of the US presence, which began with a March 2003 invasion.

Secretary Gates had reported in mid-February that the Obama Administration was eager to keep the Iraq War going, and that Iraq would “face problems” if they refused to allow it. Maliki indicated previously that he was going to hold the US to the SOFA deadline. Few in either government are taking him at his word, however, with most assuming that some sort of US military presence will be on the ground in 2012.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • JoJo

    Gates" there was (is) a strong interest in a continued US military presence" Could someone Please ask this jerk, what USA/Israel interests were/ are????
    Was Saddam asked by Jr Bush to invade? NOPE! Then why should the present government give permission to stay. Some nerve of ugyly Americans. I'm getting to think USA is no diff than Israel habitual liars.

    • thedissenter

      I've got a newsflash for you JoJo, the United States of Israel has the same habitual liars in common.

  • andy

    America is not leaving Iraq. The troops may be renamed, but they are not going.

  • Bianca

    Nooo!!! What a shocker. Would have never predicted that!