Iraq’s parliament has rejected a draft law that would have allowed troops from Britain, Australia and several other countries to remain beyond the end of this year.
The bill would have given the 6,000 non-US troops a legal basis for staying once the UN mandate expires at the end of this month.
Under a separate agreement, the 140,000 US troops will be allowed to remain until the end of 2011.
On a recent visit to Iraq British Prime Minister Gordon Brown thought a deal had already been done.
“We have agreed today that the mission will end no later than 31st of May next year,” he told a press conference.
The draft law was rejected because lawmakers objected to it being in the form of legislation rather than an agreement like the one with the US.
The rebel Iraqi MPs are hailing the snub as a “great national achievement”. They are now hoping foreign troops will be forced to leave when the UN mandate runs out.
The Iraqi government, so far, has not commented on the bill’s rejection by 80 votes to 68.