NATO Agrees to Stay in Iraq Through 2013 at Iraq's Request

An agreement may signal that Baghdad will want the U.S. to stay, too

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NATO will stay in Iraq through the end of 2013, Reuters reports, suggesting that it "could signal flexibility from Baghdad over the presence of foreign troops." There's only a month before the deadline to begin pulling all 43,000 American troops out of the country, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is reportedly supporting a plan to keep between 3,000 and 4,000 troops in Iraq.

NATO's agreed to keep its Iraq staff of 160 there through 2013 to run a small training mission, Reuters says, in return for a promise from the Iraqi government that it would share costs of the mission and not ask for an extension beyond that date. Further, the NATO workers will get special "protection privileges" -- giving them the right to self-defense. The U.S. has said it would demand similar privileges if it sticks around past December 31, 2011.

As The New York Times' Michael S. Schmidt reported Sunday, after years of calling for  an end to the American occupation, many Iraqis -- officials and civilians alike -- are having second thoughts. For example, Mohammed Qasim Abed, governor of Anbar Province, once called for Americans to leave, but now says, "Iraq is just not ready, and it's necessary for the Americans to stay to prevent Iran from overrunning the country and helping to prevent violence. But we know 3,000 troops will not be enough."
Above, the head of the Ramadi police station teaches his wife to handle an AK-47 while he is away.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.