U.S. Army Pfc. Christopher Bradley watches as Black Hawk helicopters take off on an air assault mission near Sadr al Yusufiyah, Iraq.
To the great relief of U.S. military commanders, Iraq’s cabinet approved an agreement that would provide a legal basis for the occupation beyond Dec. 31. The deal, which still must clear a vote in parliament, maintains partial immunity for U.S. soldiers and calls for the withdrawal of American forces by 2011.
Update: Iraq’s foreign minister and the U.S. ambassador have signed the agreement.
New York Times:
All but one of the 28 cabinet ministers who attended the two-and-a-half-hour session voted for the agreement and sent it to Parliament for consideration, a huge relief to the United States, which had been in intense negotiations with the Iraqis for nearly a year.
The United Nations Security Council resolution that allows U.S. troops to operate in Iraq expires Dec. 31, and, without an extension of the resolution or a separate agreement with the Iraqis like that approved by the cabinet on Sunday, forces of the U.S.-led coalition would have no legal mandate to operate.