In a definite good sign the Iraqi Cabinet approved and sent to Parliament a US Iraqi Security Agreement that has most of the facets of a full Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The Parliament could still torpedo this but it seems to have a lot of backing. There have been concerns about the Iraqis having the ability to try US service members for serious crimes. It should be noted that this is also the case in many if not most of the countries where we have full SOFA agreements.
BAGHDAD — The Iraqi cabinet voted overwhelmingly Sunday to approve the security agreement that sets the conditions for the Americans' continued presence in Iraq from Jan. 1 until the end of 2011.
All but one of the 28 cabinet ministers who attended the two-and-a-half-hour session voted for the agreement and sent it to Parliament for consideration, a huge relief to the United States, which had been in intense negotiations with the Iraqis for nearly a year.
The United Nations Security Council resolution that allows U.S. troops to operate in Iraq expires Dec. 31, and, without an extension of the resolution or a separate agreement with the Iraqis like that approved by the cabinet on Sunday, forces of the U.S.-led coalition would have no legal mandate to operate.
It was very important to get this deal done and I am much happier it was negotiated by the current team rather than the incoming H&C Inc. crew.