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Monday, July 11, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Iraqi parliament to decide by August on request for U.S. military to stay

BAGHDAD — Iraq is preparing to finally decide whether to request that the United States delay its military withdrawal in 2011.


Officials said parliament would decide by August whether to issue a formal request for the U.S. military to remain in Iraq. They said parliament would be expected to recommend a decision to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.

"We agreed that our brothers in the political parties are to consult their parties and come back again after two weeks with a final stand," Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said.

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In a statement on July 9, Talabani said parliamentary factions have been granted a two-week deadline to submit recommendations on whether the U.S. military should remain in Iraq. Both Talabani and Al Maliki have been meeting parliamentary leaders on the issue.

The United States has 46,000 troops in Iraq and they were committed to leave by 2012. Over the last month, the U.S. presence has come under increasing attack from Iranian-supported Shi'ite militias.

"We're seeing more of those weapons going in from Iran, and they've really hurt us," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on July 10 on his way to Iraq. "The key right now is to make sure that we do everything possible to ensure that the Iraqis within their own country are doing what they can to stop the flow of those weapons and to stop the Shia from using them."

So far, officials said, Washington has not relayed a formal proposal for a U.S. military presence in Iraq. They said the White House has been waiting for Al Maliki to make the first move.

Officials said the parliamentary recommendation has been hampered by the failure to approve a new Cabinet led by Al Maliki. So far, the government has not named an interior minister or defense minister.

"This [U.S. withdrawal] issue was delayed till the issue of security ministers is resolved, because these two issues are connected with each other," Talabani's chief of staff, Nasser Al Ani, said.

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