Iraqi PM Demands U.S. Pullout Timetable
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Monday no security agreement with the United States could be reached unless it included a "specific deadline" for the withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq.
Last week, U.S. and Iraqi officials said the two sides had agreed tentatively to a schedule which included a broad pullout of combat forces by the end of 2011 with a residual U.S. force remaining behind to continue training and advising the Iraqi security forces.
But al-Maliki's remarks Monday suggested that the Iraqi government is still not satisfied with that arrangement. An aide to the prime minister said Monday that Iraq remained adamant that the last American soldier must leave Iraq by the end of 2011 — regardless of conditions at the time.
The official, like others who spoke about the specifics of the debate, spoke on condition of anonymity because the text had not been approved by either government.
U.S. President George W. Bush has long resisted a timetable for pulling out troops from Iraq, even under heavy pressure from a nation distressed by American deaths and discouraged by the length of the war that began in 2003.
"There can be no treaty or agreement except on the basis of Iraq's full sovereignty," al-Maliki told a gathering of tribal sheiks. He said such an agreement must be based on the principle that "no foreign soldier remains in Iraq after a specific deadline, not an open time frame."
In his Monday address, al-Maliki also suggested that the question of granting immunity to U.S. military personnel or contractors continued to be a sticking point in the negotiations.
In one key part of the draft agreement, private U.S. contractors would be subject to Iraqi law but the Americans are holding firm that U.S. troops would remain subject exclusively to U.S. legal jurisdiction.
Al-Maliki said Monday that his country could not grant "open immunity" to Iraqis or foreigners because that would be tantamount to a violating the "sanctity of Iraqi blood." He did not elaborate.
Like I mentioned before, ungrateful and hostile nation - regardless of what the US does for them.