Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No SOFA Referendum?

The Wall Street Journal reported on October 5, 2009 that there might not be a referendum on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between Iraq and the United States. The SOFA is actually two documents that set the future relations between the two countries. When it was originally debated in Iraq’s parliament, the Iraqi Accordance Front successfully pushed through a referendum in a separate, non-binding, Political Reform Document. Originally the balloting was scheduled for July 2009, but neither the cabinet nor the legislature came up with a bill for the election. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki then said he wanted the referendum to occur the same time as the January 2010 parliamentary vote. Now, Iraqi politicians talking to the Wall Street Journal have said that there is no drive to hold the referendum in January either. Parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq worried that there may be a security vacuum if the U.S. is forced to leave early if the SOFA is voted down by the Iraqi public. Currently U.S. combat troops are slated to leave Iraq by December 31, 2011. If the SOFA referendum failed, they would have to leave in January 2011. Members of the United Iraqi Alliance and the Iraqi Islamic Party also said a referendum was unnecessary. Lawmakers are currently busy trying to push through a new parliamentary election law as well. Together that probably means there will be no SOFA referendum, unless Maliki really pushes it since one of his campaign issues is the exit of U.S. forces from Iraq.


Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Sunni Arab support key to US-Iraq security deal,” Associated Press, 11/25/08

Chon, Gina, “Iraq Vote on Pullout Put on Back Burner,” Wall Street Journal, 10/5/09

Domergue, Jeremy and Cochrane, Marisa, “Balancing Maliki,” Institute for Understanding War, June 2009

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