Speaking at a news conference over the weekend, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki addressed the growing political battle over the possible continuation of the US occupation through the December deadline. The new comments are likely to anger parliament, as he insists that keeping US military “trainers” in the nation doesn’t require any approval from parliament.
Indeed, Maliki says, he informed that parliament already that the purchase of additional weapons from the US would require trainers to show Iraqis how to use those weapons, and that this amounts to a de facto approval of those trainers.
Earlier this month officials insisted that the trainers would not be actual troops but would be contractors. Now it seems that this is being brushed aside as Maliki looks to avoid a hugely difficult parliament vote over the troops.
Maliki managed to convince parliament to approve of the US extension in 2008 narrowly, and only with the promise of a referendum which never came. Key political factions, including the Sadrist Trend, have drawn a line in the sand this time, ruling out support for another extension.