US and allied soldiers were occupying Iraq from the 2003 invasion through the end of 2008 under the auspices of a United Nations mandate, or indeed a series of renewed mandates, but the US argued that the war had been such a success that by the end of 2008 it was replaced with a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), keeping US troops in the nation until a firm 2011 withdrawal date.
At least, the date was firm until it started creeping up on everyone. Now, with just 18 months left to withdraw some 90,000 troops from the still war-torn nation, the US commander for the nation, Gen. Ray Odierno, is floating the idea of bringing the UN back for the post-2011 occupation.
Odierno was vague on the proposal, saying it was only “one option” and that the troops would likely be deployed primarily along the border between Iraq proper and its semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, in an effort to keep the two sides from clashing openly. US troops are deployed in the area currently.
But even with the US troops in the region, attacks still happen. Only yesterday four soldiers were wounded when a “traffic accident” led to fistfights between Iraqi soldiers and the Peshmerga, the paramilitary group loyal to the Kurdistan Regional Government.