Just days after al Qaeda's last stronghold in Iraq fell to the coalition ... Iraq has offered a deal to the US to stay in Iraq for the long haul.
Iraq's government, seeking protection against foreign threats and internal coups, will offer the U.S. a long-term troop presence in Iraq in return for U.S. security guarantees as part of a strategic partnership, two Iraqi officials said Monday.
As part of the package, the Iraqis want an end to the current U.N.-mandated multinational forces mission, and also an end to all U.N.-ordered restrictions on Iraq's sovereignty.
In a televised address Monday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said his government will ask the U.N. to renew the mandate for the multinational force for one final time, with its authorization to end in 2008.
Yep, Iraq wants the UN out and the US in.
The US will also get some economic benefits from the deal as well.
The Americans appeared generally favorable subject to negotiations on the details, which include preferential treatment for American investments, according to the Iraqi officials involved in the discussions.
The two Iraqi officials, who are from two different political parties, spoke on condition of anonymity because the subject is sensitive. Members of parliament were briefed on the plan during a three-hour closed-door meeting Sunday, during which lawmakers loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr objected to the formula.
Preferential treatment for U.S. investors could provide a huge windfall if Iraq can achieve enough stability to exploit its vast oil resources. Such a deal would also enable the United States to maintain leverage against Iranian expansion at a time of growing fears about Tehran's nuclear aspirations.
It is important to note that this is not a treaty, and further negotiations will continue throughout 2008.