The Iraqi Cabinet’s plan to have U.S. forces remain in the country through 2011 has been passed for a final decision to the Iraqi Parliament, where the deal faces fierce opposition from some lawmakers who consider it a sellout to the Americans, reports Tina Susman, the LA Times’s woman in Baghdad. But Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who abandoned his resistance to the plan last week, is now set on a collision course with the militant Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, who has urged his supporters to rise up against the pact. A spokesman for Sadrist lawmakers called the decision "highly regrettable" and said Maliki "gave away Iraq on a gold platter to the occupier." The Bush administration is relieved at the deal because if it had not been approved by the end of the year, American troops would have had no legal standing to remain in Iraq unless the United Nations mandate were extended.
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