U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have abandoned efforts to conclude a comprehensive agreement governing the long-term status of U.S troops in Iraq before the end of the Bush presidency, according to senior U.S. officials, effectively leaving talks over an extended U.S. military presence there to the next administration.
In place of the formal status-of-forces agreement negotiators had hoped to complete by July 31, the two governments are now working on a "bridge" document, more limited in both time and scope, that would allow basic U.S. military operations to continue beyond the expiration of a U.N. mandate at the end of the year.
The failure of months of negotiations over the more detailed accord -- blamed on both the Iraqi refusal to accept U.S. terms and the complexity of the task -- deals a blow to the Bush administration's plans to leave in place a formal military architecture in Iraq that could last for years.
The position of the Maliki government is this--we'll get a better deal from someone else. They refuse to be the Arab client state of the neoconservative movement, so they have scuttled the talks and dealt Bush a very minor blow.
Minor, because the war isn't exactly being reported in the US. That's why we're blogging this on Sunday morning--no one gives a shit about what failed over the weekend. You can expect the fact that we have no SOFA agreement with Iraq--after over five years of occupation--to be raised as an issue exactly zero times from here on in.