President Obama made withdrawing all US forces from Iraq a campaign pledge but in recent months, US officials have raised a variety of reasons – including threats from Iran – as why it would benefit both the US and Iraq to have a continued American military presence here.
Mr. Shawis laid out the deal that appeared to have been brokered to bring former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi back into the political fold to obtain the agreement – including reactivating a powerful new national security council that he was to have headed.
With Mr. Allawi reentering the political fray to provide backing on the issue, current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now believed to have enough support for the agreement to be passed by parliament, even with the opposition of the Sadrists.
The agreement also calls for Allawi’s Iraqiya party to choose a new defense minister while Mr. Maliki and his allies would decide on an interior minister. Those key posts have been vacant because of political disagreements since the coalition government was formed in December.
A US embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says the training forces could conceivably continue to work with Iraqi special forces on counter-terrorism operations and provide intelligence help if the Iraqis asked. He says they had not yet discussed numbers of troops or specific areas for negotiation.