Iraq Hesitates To OK Security Pact With US

The government of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is holding off on agreeing to the proposed security pact that would permit US troops to remain in Iraq for at least three more years. Maliki’s United Iraqi Alliance is opposed to the proposal and made clear it would be against the treaty if it were submitted to parliament. The Alliance holds 85 of parliament’s 275 seats and their votes are necessary. Tens of thousands of Iraqis filled the streets of Baghdad shouting opposition to the agreement.

The reality confronting Maliki is opposition from his own alliance as well as from the thirty supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, Many Iraqis are disturbed the agreement allows American soldiers and contractors to be tried in military courts rather than in civilian for most offenses they commit. The population is not overwhelmingly in support of the proposed security pact and since elections will be held in the coming months, many politicians are hesitant to be identified as being supporters.

George Bush has been a supporter of a strong Iraqi government. He now confronts one that will not do as he wishes. What then?