Britain’s legal basis for remaining in Iraq for more than another 10 days is tenuous, at best. A previous draft proposal backed by the Iraqi cabinet sought to order the troops to wrap things up by the end of May and leave by the end of July. But in a tumultuous week for parliament that was highlighted by Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani resigning in disgust and then quietly unresigning, the vote quietly failed.
Without it, when the UN mandate expires (a week from Thursday), the British forces still left in Iraq would have absolutely no legal basis for being there. Confined to base, the forces would have no legal choice but to beat a hasty retreat from the nation after being one of the cornerstone members of America’s “coalition of the willing” that invaded the country in 2003.
Iraq’s parliament is hoping to come up with an alternative however, as a “compromise” bill would essentially re-propose the same terms that failed last week, but couched as a parliamentary resolution rather than an actual law. In this way, parliament could circumvent the need for a two-thirds majority to pass the bill.