With political and popular support drying up and the Iraqi Council of Ministers unanimously demanding several amendments, the last draft of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the US seems all but dead as top Dawa party members say Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will not submit the deal to parliament. The latest draft was reportedly finished last week, and at the time was said to be the final one.
The United States is reportedly unwilling to entertain further revisions to the SOFA, with Admiral Michael Mullen saying he was “increasingly concerned” that Iraqi officials were publicly criticizing the draft and Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell blaming Iran for the delays. The Iraqi government has condemned the warnings as “inappropriate.”
If the SOFA is not ratified by the end of the year, when the UN mandate expires, the United States will lose all legal authority for its military operation in Iraq. According to top Dawa party figure Sheikh Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, the government is considering asking the UN to extend its mandate for another 6 months to a year. It was previously speculated that Russia might be an obstacle to extending the mandate, but Russia has said they will not object so long as the request comes from the Iraqi government.