With an apparent eye on the ever growing possibility that the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States and Iraq will not be approved of by the end of the year, Iraq’s Ministry of Defense reportedly says that they are ready to replace the 150,000-plus Multi National Forces (MNF) throughout Iraq in the eventually that a deal is not in place.
The announcement came by way of Abdulkareem al-Samaraee, a Sunni member of parliament and Deputy Head of the committee on security and defense. He says the committee has been informed by “a number of military commanders,” including the Iraqi army staff commander, that “they are ready to replace MNF throughout Iraq, in case that a security pact would not be held with the US.”
The United States is expected to respond to the SOFA amendments proposed by the Iraqi government sometime after tomorrow’s election, though preliminary reports suggest that they are going to reject several of the demands. The US is also reported to be mulling asking the United Nations Security Council to extend its mandate beyond the new year, bypassing the need for a formal pact with the Iraqi government.
Iraq had previously suggested they might request the UN extension as well, but with violence down, tensions with the US rising, and the military now saying they are prepared to replace them, it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will see fit to request an extension of the occupation under UN auspices, especially as it will no doubt come with considerably worse terms than the draft SOFA they rejected.