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The Kurds Are Split On Hosting US Troops.

During Saturday’s Book Salon with Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith I asked what he thought of the Kurdish Regional Government’s Barzani’s offer…

Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government, told The Times on Wednesday evening that he would be happy to host U.S. troops if the central government in Baghdad refuses to do so.

"The people of Kurdistan highly appreciate the sacrifices American forces have made for our freedom," Mr. Barzani said at a reception in Washington after meetings with President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The good Ambassador replied…

I think we have a moral obligation to the Kurds who fought on our side in the 2003 war and have made enemies in the region by being our friend. We also have a political interest in the success of the one part of Iraq that has turned out the way the Bush administration hoped for all Iraq–stable, pro-western, secular and moving toward democracy.

Basing troops in Kurdistan is one way to protect the Kurds and the Kurdistan experiment. So, I would accept Barzani’s offer if the SOFA fails–as I suspect it will.

I disagreed, along with several other pups, and I further pointed out that both the Turks and the Iranians would be none too thrilled about our continued presence there. Well, it seems the other half of the Kurdish nation and Iraq’s current President, Jalal Talabani doesn’t think that it’s such a hot idea either…

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has said that American troops can set up bases in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region only if the Shiite-led government in Baghdad gives its approval.

"It is not possible for US troops to stay in Kurdistan without the approval of the central government," Talabani said in an interview with state television Al-Iraqiya late on Sunday.

"Kurdistan is part of Iraq, and all of the country’s constitutional laws apply to it."

His remarks came after Massud Barzani, the president of the northern Kurdish administration of Iraq, said on a visit to Washington that the US military could have bases in the north if Washington and Baghdad failed to sign a controversial security deal.

What is the current status of the SOFA?

Washington OKs most Iraq’s proposed changes over SOFA

Iraqi officials said that Washington has agreed on most of Iraq’s proposed changes to a draft security agreement that would allow U.S. troops to stay in the country until 2011, an Iraqi newspaper reported on Monday.

"According to information received from the Americans in Baghdad, Washington has agreed on three changes out of five earlier proposed by Baghdad to amend," the official al-Sabah daily quoted a well-informed government source as saying.

The paper also said that the U.S. side "rejected changes on the immunity item, but the U.S. response which is expected in two days would include a proposal that would solve this issue."

According to the source who spoke anonymously, the article on withdrawal will also be amended to stipulate that withdrawal of U. S. forces from Iraq should be within 36 months from the start of implementation of the security agreement, which called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

Among other articles, that the Americans agreed to change, is to rename the SOFA to be "agreement on withdrawal of U.S. forces," the paper said.

Huh? Even more backpedaling by this Maladministration? Apparently, Maliki forced Shrub to eat some serious crow… "Agreement on withdrawal…" Whew, I wonder how much Kool Aid it took to wash that one down…? Ironically, I still think the immunity issue will kill the deal. We shall see…!

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