[JURIST] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive] on Sunday reiterated calls for the UN to establish an international tribunal to investigate and try suspects accused in the August 19 bombing of the foreign and finance ministries [BBC report] that left close to 100 dead. Meeting with the US envoy in Iraq, al-Maliki also described the worsening situation between Iraq and Syria [AP report], which has refused to hand over individuals suspected of planning the attacks. Al-Maliki's request for an international tribunal echo a letter [Reuters report] sent recently to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that was forwarded to the UN Security Council [official websites], in which al-Maliki asked that an independent international commission of inquiry be set up to investigate the attacks. The Security Council has yet to respond to the request.
The August attacks came less than two months after US troops withdrew from urban centers under the US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF], which allows US troops to remain in the country until the end of 2011. In the days before the bombings, the Iraqi Cabinet approved a draft bill that would require a referendum [JURIST report] on the SOFA. Under the proposed bill, which must still be approved by the Iraqi Parliament, the referendum would occur during the parliamentary elections, scheduled for January 16. If the SOFA were rejected by Iraqi voters, US troops would have only one year to withdraw, resulting in a January 2011 withdrawal, nearly a year ahead of schedule. No parliamentary vote on the bill has been scheduled.