Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told Iraq’s state-run television station al-Iraqia today that the United States has made ‘good concessions‘ regarding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). He also said that he was confident the agreement would be reached, as it is “necessary for the development of the country.”
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that there was still no timetable for the completion of the agreement. The UN mandate which governs the operation of foreign forces in Iraq expires at the end of this year, after which time the SOFA would take effect, assuming it is passed. The question of troop immunity is one of the primary sticking points left to be negotiated between the two parties.
The SOFA was initially expected to be completed during the summer, but has stalled as an increasingly independent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has felt more confident in his position and demanded far better terms than the US anticipated. US Ambassador Ryan Crocker has also accused Iran of trying to block the agreement.
Last week President Talabani reportedly claimed the US was threatening to seize Iraqi assets if the government did not support the security pact. Though there has been no confirmation of the initial report, Iraqi MP Mohammed Kamid al-Humedawi told Iran’s Press TV that “Baghdad is under pressure by Washington to accept the security deal in exchange for clearing all of Iraq’s debts.”