The Iraqi government continues to scramble to get ready for tomorrow’s talks on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and tentatively the vote (though it has already been delayed twice this week). It is now being reported that the government has agreed on a demand by the a key Sunni bloc for a national referendum on the SOFA, to be held in July. They have reportedly rejected other demands for reforms however.
Assuming the referendum deal is sufficient to get the Sunni bloc’s support, the SOFA will likely pass easily over the remaining opposition. The United States does not appear to object to the referendum, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insists that the SOFA will still go into effect on January 1 regardless of the pending referendum.
Under the terms of the SOFA, Iraq can cancel the deal at any time, but would be required to give the United States a year of advanced notice before doing so. Assuming the SOFA indeed goes into force before the referendum the July 30, 2009 vote would not have any effect on the deal until late 2010.