After months of negotiations, it appears that the discussions over the Status of Forces Agreement are near their final stages:
Baghdad will demand changes to the wording of a pact allowing U.S. troops to stay in Iraq but will not seek to renegotiate the “backbone” of the agreement, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Wednesday.
With the agreement of the SOFA, Maliki’s position in the government will be cemented, having stated that he was able to get the Americans to agree to leave. It appears that the Sunni Arabs, once the most anti-American portion of the population, is pulling with the Kurds for a longer-term American presence.
With the SOFA agreed to, the government hopefully will work harder to integrate the Awakening fighters. Iraq’s military is gaining in both proficiency and numbers, rising to 542,000 trained.
Just today the MNF turned control of Babil Province to the Iraqi Security Forces. This is the 12th province of Iraq’s 18 that has been turned over. Wassit province will be turned over at the end of this month, as well:
Iraq’s National Security Advisor Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said the handover is proof Iraqi security forces in Babil have reached self-sufficiency.
The Bahraini FM also visited Baghdad and Kuwait named an ambassador to Baghdad for the first time since 1990.