"More than three-quarters of those present at today's session voted for
the agreement, and that was not expected," Al Attiyah said.
The pro-Iranian bloc, led by the 30-member Shi'ite party of Muqtada
Sadr, sought to delay the vote, originally scheduled for Nov. 26. But by
Nov. 27, the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki amassed a
parliamentary majority for SOFA.
"Taken together, these two agreements formalize a strong and equal
partnership between the United States and Iraq," a U.S. government statement
said. "They provide the means to secure the significant security gains we
have achieved together and to deter future aggression."
Under an agreement that allowed the vote, SOFA would be submitted to an
Iraqi referendum by July 30, 2009. By that time, U.S. forces would be
obligated to withdraw from Iraqi cities. Currently, the U.S. military
maintains 150,000 troops in Iraq.
"They establish a framework for cooperation in the fields of defense,
political relations, economics, trade, culture, education, the rule of law,
health, the environment and science and technology," the statement by U.S.
ambassador Ryan Crocker and military commander Gen. Ray Odierno said.
Officials said SOFA would be sent to the Iraqi Presidential Council. The
three-member panel was expected to approve it.
"Iraqis should now feel that they have the control and they have to take
the full responsibility [for security]," Iraqi government spokesman Ali Al