Some Iraqis want U.S. forces to stay

April 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM
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BAQUBAH, Iraq, April 29 (UPI) -- A member of a Kurdish political party involved in the politics in the eastern province of Diyala suggested U.S. forces should stay in the country.

U.S. forces under the terms of a bilateral status of forces agreement signed in 2008 leave Iraq at the end of December. U.S. war planners and Iraqi officials are pondering whether to extend the military presence as slow political movement in Baghdad complicates security issues in the country.

Dilair Hassan, a Kurdish lawmaker in Diyala's provincial security committee, said his supporters want to see some U.S. forces stay.

"The decision on the complete withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Iraqi territories, including Diyala province, will be reflected passively on the security conditions, especially if all evidences point to the non-readiness of the Iraqi forces to receive the security dossier in full," he told the Voices of Iraq news agency.

Arabs, Kurds and ethnic minority groups sprinkled throughout Iraq's north are squabbling over access to oil, autonomy and the disputed territories, a swath of land stretching from Sinjar in the northwest to Khanaqin in the north of Diyala province.

U.S. Army Col. Larry Swift, who commands U.S. military forces in Kirkuk, told The Wall Street Journal in December he wasn't sure what would happen in the north once U.S. forces leave for good at the end of 2011.

"No one knows what exactly is going to happen when we unplug completely from here," he said.

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