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SOFA APPROVED….In the neverending soap opera that is Iraq, the SOFA agreement has finally passed. Sort of:

Iraqi lawmakers today approved a pact allowing U.S. forces to stay in the country through 2011 after winning support from skeptics by promising a public referendum on the plan.

Of the 198 parliamentarians attending today’s session, more than 140 held up their hands in favor of the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA….The lawmakers separately approved a resolution calling for a referendum in July 2009, during which the public will get to endorse, reject, or demand amendments to the SOFA. The referendum was the key demand of Sunni Muslim legislators who had refused to join the parliament’s ruling Shiite and Kurdish blocs in approving SOFA without the referendum promise.

So, once again, we don’t have a firm approval for withdrawal. The Iraqi public has a longstanding desire for American troops to leave, which suggests the SOFA will be approved, but a lot can happen in six months. If I had to bet, I’d say it passes in July, but I sure wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

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