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Iraqis will vote on US exit

The Iraqi Prime Minister has asked for a vote on when US troops will leave the country. If approved this could speed up the timeline for our withdrawal or possibly it could extend it. There hasn't been an approval by the parliament to hold such a vote or a decision on how it would be worded.

It is unclear whether parliament, which is in recess until next month, would approve the referendum. Lawmakers have yet to pass a measure laying the basic ground rules for the Jan. 16 national election, their top legislative priority for the remainder of 2009.

Before signing off on the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement last year, Iraqi lawmakers demanded that voters get to weigh in on the pact in a referendum that was to take place no later than last month. Because it did not happen, American officials assumed the plebiscite was a dead issue.

U.S. officials say they have no way to know how the referendum would turn out, but they worry that many Iraqis are likely to vote against the pact. Maliki billed the withdrawal of U.S. forces from urban areas at the end of June as a "great victory" for Iraqis, and his government has since markedly curbed the authority and mobility of U.S. forces.

While not ideal from our perspective, I think it shows that Iraq now stands, albeit unsteadily, on it's own two feet. There will be problems and they will have to handle them. I think the biggest potential land mine is Kurdistan, but that was going to be an issue no matter what. The question is will the Iraqi government roll into Kirkuk if the Kurds announce they are seceding and there are no US troops in the way. Could get messy.

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