Despite several media reports suggesting it is a done deal, US officials deny that any decision has been made about removing its combat forces from Iraq at the end of 2011. They also say talks are ongoing, and Pentagon officials express confidence in reaching a deal.
“We still have time to go,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little. Despite this there is no indication that any progress is being made over what is really the only major issue in the deployment going forward.
That of course is the question of immunity, as the Iraqi government has not only agreed in principle to the idea of US troops staying, but has even formally requested 5,000 US troops to remain as trainers.
But the Iraqi government insists these troops would be confined to training missions on military bases, and therefore wouldn’t need the blanket immunity they now enjoy. Though US officials are ok with the idea of calling them “trainers,” they have insisted the troops must retain immunity.