Sunni Muslim politicians had wanted the referendum on the U.S.-Iraqi security pact to be conducted in January, at the same time as national elections. But with the clock ticking on preparations for the elections and the parliament still deadlocked over a new election law, there no longer is time to also draft and approve the legislation required to simultaneously hold a referendum, legislators say.
Perhaps more significant, the political will to hold a referendum appears to have evaporated amid the realization that U.S. troops are leaving anyway, and that it may not be in Iraq’s interests to have them pull out even sooner.
“The political blocs are no longer interested in this issue. They want to ignore it because they are busy with the elections. They don't see it as something they could use to their advantage,” said Salim Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, which previously insisted on a referendum.
“We still have concerns that Iraq does need American forces to be on the ground. The challenge of Iran still exists, and also the people are not confident in the performance of the Iraqi security forces,” Jabouri said. “I can’t say we want the Americans to stay [until the deadline] because that could cause some misunderstandings. But I will say that if they stay, it will have its advantages.”
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