Civil war without SOFA, Barzani says

Nov. 13, 2008 at 8:08 PM
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ERBIL, Iraq, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Iraq may descend into civil war if Baghdad and Washington cannot agree to the provisions of a bilateral Status of Forces Agreement, the Kurdish president said.

U.S. and Iraqi officials are reviewing the final language in the long-term security pact that will replace the legal cover for the coalition troop presence in Iraq as outlined in a U.N. mandate.

"If the pact is not signed, the situation in the country may deteriorate to the point of a civil war," said the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani.

The Kurdish president told reporters in the Kurdish capital, Erbil, that U.S. troops would have no presence in Iraqi Kurdistan under the provisions of the security arrangement, the Voices of Iraq news agency reported. He stressed, however, that the pact was in the best interests of the country as a whole.

Barzani recently returned from a trip to Washington where he met with top officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Washington has pushed hard for resolution on the agreement, which expires at the end of December, though the provision is seemingly stalled in Baghdad.

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