Officials said the negotiations between the government of Iraqi Prime
Minister Nouri Al Maliki and Washington intensified over the last two
weeks. They said the administration of President Barack Obama has requested
a military presence of between 10,000 and 20,000 troops dependent on the
security situation in Iraq, and supported by helicopters, main battle tanks
and armored personnel carriers.
Al Maliki has agreed to no more than 8,000 troops, nearly all of them
trainers and support staff. Baghdad envisions a modest American presence
that would be protected largely by the Iraqi military.
Officials said Washington has sought to deploy any American military
presence in six bases throughout Iraq. But they said Al Maliki's negotiators
have agreed to only three U.S. bases as well as tight restrictions on
movement and activities.
"Iraq wants an agreement to train its troops and contract with
instructors for newly-purchased weapons from the United States," Saad Al
Mutlabi, an Al Maliki aide, said. "But the Americans believe that the
instructors need military forces for protection."
Some allies of Al Maliki, particularly Muqtada Al Sadr, have called for
the withdrawal of all U.S. forces. Officials said the prime minister did not
want a confrontation with his Shi'ite allies over an extended U.S. military
"Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki is well aware of the mood of the Iraqi
street and will not move more than he is permitted," Al Mutlabi said.