A vote in Iraq’s parliament allowing troops from Britain and other countries to stay until the end of July next year has been put on hold.
The deadlock comes after the speaker suspended the vote following calls for him to resign. The row raises doubts whether the resolution, which gives non-US troops a legal basis to stay in Iraq, will be passed in time. The current UN mandate allowing their continued deployment runs out on New Year’s Eve. Over the weekend, Iraqi politicians rejected a bill sanctioning the presence of non-American forces. Reports say Iraq’s governing parties were optimistic the new resolution would succeed, but the fracas involving the speaker seems to have dashed those hopes with the parliament not scheduled to re-convene until 7 January. Last week, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was in Baghdad, announced the majority of the 4,100 British troops stationed in the south of Iraq would be withdrawn by July.