After months of back-and-forth between Baghdad and the Bush Administration, the Iraqi government has demanded a reworking of the security agreement. A pact must be forged before the end of the year, when Bush leaves office, but more importantly when the UN mandate authorizing the US mission ends.
The draft, which has now been rejected, would have required the US out of Iraq by 2011, unless invited to stay by Iraq. The general idea of an agreement does not appear threatened, but influential Iraqi leaders have not accepted specific provisions. The draft permits the trial in Iraqi court of US troops, accused of serious crimes while off duty. But the nature of that concession is not satisfactory, such as the legal mechanism for trying US troops. Last weekend, Shiite demonstrators protested the proposal to give the US long-term authority to stay in Iraq.
As for getting the US on board, President Bush won't seek Congress's legal approval, but has briefed members, including John McCain and Barack Obama, in hopes of garnering political support.