Iraq's parliament today passed a security pact with the US that lets American troops stay in the country for 3 more years. The ruling coalition's Shiite and Kurdish blocs as well as the largest Sunni Arab bloc backed the "yes" vote, the AP reports. The parliament speaker said an "overwhelming majority" lawmakers present voted in favor. PM Nouri al-Maliki appeared to have won the comfortable majority he sought to give the agreement additional legitimacy.
A bloc of 30 lawmakers loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who opposed the pact, chanted protests and hoisted banners that said "No, no to the agreement" during the 25-minute session. Under the agreement, American forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30 and the entire country by Jan. 1, 2012. Iraq will have strict oversight over U.S. forces.