The US is seeking to expand its military presence in Iraq just as the Iraqi government is backing a vote that could force an early US withdrawal.
On Monday, the Iraqi cabinet said it would support holding a national referendum on whether to approve the US-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA. The agreement calls for a US withdrawal by the end of 2011.
But if Iraqis reject the timetable, US troops would be forced to begin pulling out nearly one year earlier. The Obama administration has pressured the Iraqi government to drop the referendum vote, despite its requirement under the US-Iraqi troop agreement.
If approved by parliament, the referendum would be held in January.
Photo of Iraqi Minister of State for National Security Shirwan Al-Wa’ili taken from Wikimedia Commons