It looks clear to me, and has for some time, that Iraqi lawmakers would simply never ask the US military to stick around after the end of the status of forces agreement in December 2011. Yes, the US has leverage with the Iraqi government to an extent, but the ability for lawmakers to keep their heads attached to their bodies has more pull. It’s just undeniable that an extension of the military presence would cause a collapse of the government, mass popular unrest and a likely resumption of sectarian tensions. Not to mention that it would put a target on our soldiers’ backs.

So it’s no surprise that the Iraqis have missed self-imposed deadlines over formally asking for an extension. And now, nobody in the government wants to say much about it.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said months ago that the White House would need to know Iraq’s decision by August.

Talabani’s office declined a CNN request for comment. Al-Maliki’s office referred questions to Talabani.

During the meeting at Talabani’s Baghdad office, the representatives said they needed more time to consult party members, Othman said. He was briefed on the outcome of the meeting by his party, the Kurdish bloc.

But an official in the office of Sunni Vice President Taha al-Hashami told CNN political leaders decided to postpone the meeting “until further notice” because there are still disagreements over a possible request to extend the stay of U.S. troops.

The disagreement extends beyond the closed door meeting.

Shiite lawmaker Hassan al-Sineid told Iraqiya state TV Sunday that U.S. troops should leave as planned.

“Let me tell you something, whether the Iraqi army is able or unable to protect Iraq’s borders from external aggression, we shouldn’t agree to keep some American troops after 2011,” said al-Sineid, a member of al-Maliki’s political party.

Yes, Maliki’s own party members are firmly against extension. Other parties, with the exception of the Kurds, are opposed as well. And much of the public doesn’t support the US military staying.

Meanwhile, the plans for withdrawal are continuing on schedule. Without a formal ask for an extension, the military will shift their focus to the logistics of drawing down, starting August 1. That’s just a few days away.

UPDATE: Incidentally, 77 members of the House have signed a letter asking that the President withdraw from Iraq on schedule. This has budget implications; the Reid proposal scores savings from ending the war in Iraq, and drawing down in Afghanistan, as really budget savings, and so extending the presence would reduce the savings from that. Here are the names of the current signers:

Current Cosigners (77): Baldwin, Bass (CA-33), Braley, Capuano, Cicilline, Clark (MI-13), Clarke (NY-11), Cleaver, Clyburn, Cohen, Conyers, Costello, Davis (IL-7), DeFazio, Doggett, Duncan (TN-2), Ellison, Farr, Filner, Frank, Fudge, Garamendi, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hanabusa, Hastings (FL-23), Heinrich, Hirono, Honda, Jackson Jr. (IL-2), Jackson-Lee, Johnson (TX-30), Johnson (IL-15), Kaptur, Kucinich, Lewis (GA-5), Loebsack, Lofgren, Lujan, Maloney, Matsui, McDermott, McGovern, Michaud, Miller (CA-7), Moore, Nadler, Napolitano, Norton, Olver, Paul, Payne, Rangel, Richardson, Rush, Sanchez (CA-47), Schakowsky, Scott (VA-3), Serrano, Sewell, Slaughter, Speier, Stark, Thompson (CA-1), Tonko, Towns, Tsongas, Waters, Watt, Welch, Wilson (FL-17), Woolsey, Yarmuth

David Dayen

David Dayen

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