Iraqi Prime Minster Nuri al-Maliki said today that negotiations with US over a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) have reached a deadlock. The new SOFA would have covered the presence of US troops in Iraq beyond 2008 when the current UN mandate expires.
During his visit to Tehran last week, Maliki was pressured by Iran, including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to reject the proposed SOFA, at least in its present form. Iran is fearful that such pact would give US the legal justifications to establish permanent military based inside Iraq.
Maliki’s comments today show the extent of Iranian influence on him and other Shia leaders in Iraq.
On a related storyline, Iraq analysts noticed that when Maliki was visiting with Khamenei he did not wear his customary necktie. This is seen as Maliki’s deference to Khamanei, viewing him as the leader of Shia world. Please notice that he is wearing his necktie during his visit with President Ahmadinejad.