Iraq Parliament Delays Vote on US Security Pact

Political bargaining forces postponement to tomorrow
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 26, 2008 10:42 AM CST
US soldiers secure the area at the scene of a roadside bomb blast.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Intense dealmaking among Iraq's political factions has delayed until tomorrow a parliamentary vote on the security pact that would allow American forces to stay in the country through 2011. The Shiite-led government is struggling to meet the demands of political blocs, including a large group of Sunni Arab lawmakers, seeking concessions in return for supporting the agreement.

The government's Shiite and Kurdish blocs, which hold a slight majority in parliament, have agreed to include a provision for a national referendum on the deal in 2009, as a concession to Sunni Arab legislators. If that happens, the deal could be approved by parliament, but torpedoed by a "no" vote in the referendum. The vote count tomorrow will be as important as the overall result because the country's most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has indicated that the deal would be acceptable only if it passes by a wide margin.