The LA Times reports the Iraq parliament delays vote on security agreement. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was unsure he had enough votes to pass the agreement to allow the United States to stay in Iraq for another three years past the December 31, 2008 deadline. Sunni lawmakers have been pressing Maliki’s Shiite-led government for concessions in exchange for their support. The vote is seen as a referendum on the Maliki administration.
The delay, coming after days of political bargaining and cajoling, underscored Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s concerns about passing the controversial Status of Forces Agreement without a wide margin. The legislature’s main Shiite Muslim and Kurdish blocs support the deal, virtually ensuring it would win the 138 votes needed to pass the 275-seat parliament. But Shiite Muslim leaders want to ensure sufficient Sunni votes to guarantee its legitimacy in the eyes of Iraq’s Sunnis.
As a result, what began as a debate over the future of U.S. forces here has evolved into a political showdown reflective of the resentment, sectarian distrust and grudges among Iraqi lawmakers. The main Sunni bloc, Tawafiq, led the way in using the security agreement as a bargaining chip for getting its own demands met, but smaller political factions followed.
By today, a host of mainly Sunni parties were demanding that the pact be accompanied by legislation encompassing a range of demands. They included amnesty for U.S.-held detainees, who are mainly Sunni; the elimination of a special court established to try figures in Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led regime for crimes committed on the regime’s behalf; and the lifting of restrictions that prevent former members of Hussein’s Baath Party from holding high-level government jobs.
Four at Four continues with Obama’s national security team, a possible coup in Thailand, and Greenland’s greater self-rule.