Iraq's parliament has approved a measure allowing British and other
non-U.S. foreign troops to stay in the country after the end of the
Lawmakers overwhelming voted Tuesday in favor of the measure, shortly
after Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani resigned. In a farewell
speech, Mashhadani, a controversial Sunni politician whose insults of
fellow lawmakers last week disrupted debate on the issue, apologized
for his behavior.
The arrangement allows some four thousand British troops, as well as
smaller forces from Australia, Estonia and Romania, to operate in Iraq
If the measure had not passed before a United Nations mandate expires
December 31st, the troops would have had no legal basis to operate in
the country next year.
Separately, El Salvador, one of the remaining nations in the U.S.-led
coalition, announced it will withdraw its troops at the end of this
That development came as Romania's parliament voted to maintain troops
in Iraq in 2009, at the request of President Traian Basescu.
The U.S. and Iraq already have signed an agreement allowing U.S. troops to stay in Iraq until the end of 2011.
In another development, Iraqi officials say authorities released a
group of Iraqi security officials arrested last week and accused of
working to rebuild the outlawed Baath party of former leader Saddam
In past days, there have been conflicting reports about whether the 23 security officials were still in custody.
Iraq's interior minister, Jawad al-Bolani, said Friday the arrests were
motivated by politics. He denied the security and defense ministry
officials were planning a coup.