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Iraq parliament approves non-US forces status agreement

[JURIST] The Iraqi parliament Tuesday approved an agreement that will permit 6,000 troops from the United Kingdom, Australia, Romania, and Estonia to remain in the country for a limited time after the current UN mandate [UN press release] authorizing the multi-national force in Iraq expires on December 31, 2008. The vote came after Sunni speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani offered his resignation. The vote was delayed [JURIST report] Monday due to rising tensions between members of parliament and al-Mashhadani, who last week called some parliamentarians "sons of dogs" during a debate over the fate of Iraqi shoe-throwing journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi [JURIST report]. Under the agreement, foreign troops may remain in Iraq through 2009. El Salvador announced Tuesday that it would withdraw its troops by the end of the month.

US troops may remain in Iraq until 2011 under a separate Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF; CFR backgrounder] approved [JURIST report] earlier this month. The SOFA was approved by the Iraq cabinet and the Iraq parliament [JURIST reports] in November. In addition to the official deadlines for troop withdrawal, it gives Iraqi courts limited jurisdiction over American military personnel and eliminates immunity [JURIST reports] for US defense contractors working within Iraq.

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