Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi (Iraqiya Party) has issued a statement today in the wake of meeting with US Ambassador James Jeffery, declaring his opposition to renewing the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the US to keep troops in the nation beyond December.
The statement has Hashimi declaring that the “interests of both countries are not to extend or renew the security agreement,” though Ambassador Jeffrey was said to have confirmed the US willingness to keep troops in the nation, or simply training units, or withdraw entirely.
The Bush Administration and the Maliki government agreed to the SOFA in late 2008, though Iraq’s parliament only approved it with the promise of a referendum on the pact (which never came). This codified the continued US occupation through the end of 2011, though by 2009 officials were already openly talking about extending the presence.
The US calls to extend their presence picked up heavily early this year, and officials have repeatedly demanded that Maliki “request” the continued US occupation through 2012 and beyond. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that the US could remain for “years” to come, despite massive opposition among a number of Iraqi political factions.