Numerous sources are reporting today that we’ve finally made the necessary concessions on the timeline for the SOFA…
Here’s some of the money quotes…
Al-Maliki said the U.S. had made major concessions, including agreeing to pull U.S. forces back to their bases by the end of June and to a full withdrawal by Dec. 31, 2011.
President Bush had steadfastly refused for years to set a timetable for a troop withdrawal, saying that should depend on security conditions on the ground. Iraqi politicians say they cannot sell the deal to their war-weary public without a timeline for the end of the U.S. presence.
However, one senior U.S. official, close to the talks, confirmed Friday that the Americans had agreed to the June and 2011 dates.
Among those concessions is an agreement that U.S. military forces will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of December 2011, Maliki said.
The 2011 date agreement comes after the initial withdrawal proposal of July 2009, KUNA said.
Another major concession granted by U.S. officials is lifting U.N. sanctions placed on Iraq following the earlier Gulf War. By lifting the sanctions, U.S. and U.N. officials would be allowing Iraq to access finances frozen since the conflict.
The agreement states the U.S troops in Iraq would leave Iraqi soil by 31/12/2011 and the presence of U.S. troops inside Iraqi cities to end by 30/06/2009 so that Iraq can exit from the Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
The only caveat noted was from the AP story…
"Iraqi officials have said the U.S. departure could be delayed if the government asks the U.S. to stay."
I’m sure that is highly unlikely…
Woo Hoo, there’s finally a light at the end of the very long tunnel!
The Aswat Aliraq story also mentions the fact that Al Sistani will support the SOFA if it is submitted to Parliament for approval…
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Friday said the religious authority saw the responsibility of signing the long-term security agreement with the U.S. lay in hands of the parliament and government institutions.
“His Eminence Sayyed (Ali) al-Sistani said the issue (of signing the U.S-Iraq security agreement) is up to Iraqis and their political parties,” Maliki told reporters after meeting Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy Shiite city of Najaf.[…]
It would be difficult to finalize the pact without the blessing of Sistani, who wields great influence over Iraq’s Shiites.
The premier also said that Sistani called for “including all Iraqi denominations into endorsing the deal through constitutional institutions”
The immunity for US troops and contractors still remain a thorny issue… We’ll see how the Parliament reacts shortly! Great news for our troops and the Iraqis!