Agreement on withdrawal US Forces
After several months of tough negotiations Washington conceded, and on 17 November 2008, in the final days of the Bush administration, a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was reached between Baghdad and Washington (later approved by Parliament and the Presidency Council). Under this agreement: 1) US combat troops would first withdraw from urban areas by 30 June 2009; 2) the number of American combat forces would be reduced from about 125,000 to 50,000 by 31 August 2010; the remaining American forces would be involved in training and assisting the armed forces of Iraq; and 3) all American forces would leave Iraq by 31 December 2011. It would thereafter be up to the government of Iraq to make security arrangements with the United States. At the request of several Iraqi parties, the agreement would require the approval of the people of Iraq by a referendum planned for July 2009, but which did not take place, then or later.
In addition to these successes, Prime Minister al-Maliki tried to establish himself as a kind of a new ‘strong man’, attempting to run a divided society. His first test came with the provincial elections of 31 January 2009 (because of political disagreements between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad, these elections were postponed in Kirkuk). For al-Maliki and his State of Law Coalition these elections paid off well, at least among Shiite Arab voters. Important players, such as the Shiite Islamist Supreme Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI; renamed from SCIRI in May 2007) and the list of Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, lost a lot of ground to al-Maliki, in Baghdad, Basra, and elsewhere. On the other hand, because al-Maliki got almost no votes from Sunni Arabs (or Kurds), his ambition to become a ‘national leader’ was seriously dented.
We would like to ask you something …
Fanack is an independent media organisation, not funded by any state or any interest group, that distributes in the Middle East and the wider world unbiased analysis and background information, based on facts, about the Middle East and North Africa.
The website grew rapidly in breadth and depth and today forms a rich and valuable source of information on 21 countries, from Morocco to Oman and from Iran to Yemen, both in Arabic and English. We currently reach six million readers annually and growing fast.
In order to guarantee the impartiality of information on the Chronicle, articles are published without by-lines. This also allows correspondents to write more freely about sensitive or controversial issues in their country. All articles are fact-checked before publication to ensure that content is accurate, current and unbiased.