Iraq's parliament puts off vote on U.S. troop accord

BAGHDAD — Political bartering on Wednesday held up a pivotal vote in Iraq's parliament on a U.S.-Iraq security pact calls for the withdrawal of American forces within the next three years.

Parliament was scheduled to vote on the agreement, but political blocs met throughout the afternoon trying to craft a companion measure that would enable the pact's opponents to vote for it.

They're following demands issued by an alliance of Sunni parties and smaller Shiite blocs that want to put the pact to a national vote next year to affirm it.

Doing so would give the U.S. at least a year and a half to leave Iraq even if voters demand an immediate withdrawal.

That's because the vote likely wouldn't take place until July, and the security agreement requires each side to give the other notice of at least one year before ending the pact.

"We don't have an objection to that," said Heider al Abady, a member of parliament from the Dawa party. His bloc is one of the groups endorsing the pact as a safe way to end the U.S. occupation without creating a security vacuum.

Parliament is scheduled to reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday.

(Ashton writes for the Modesto (Calif.) Bee)