Though he said today that he wasn’t sure the Iraqi government had actually settled on whether or not to actually hold the long-promised referendum, Vice President Joe Biden says that the United States will abide by whatever decision the Iraqi voters make regarding their continued presence.
The Iraqi government only managed to get the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) through parliament with a promise of a referendum in July 2009 to allow Iraqi voters to decide on it. Though the parliament rejected delays, the July vote never happened, and officials now say it won’t be held until January 2010, if at all.
Even if the referendum rejects the SOFA, the US would have 12 months after the release of the results to actually remove the 131,000 troops it has in the nation. Though the US has promised a withdrawal several times, it has not removed significant numbers of troops and has even added some in recent weeks.
Several Iraqi MPs have complained about the delay to the referendum, expressing concerns about oversight of the cabinet. It should be noted, however, that the Bush Administration refused to even let the US Congress see the SOFA text until after its ratification, and neither Congress nor the American people had any opportunity to vote on the pact.