Morning Brief: Iraq imposes timetable for withdrawal

Top Story Remember all those arguments over U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq? It may not be up to him anymore. On Sunday, Iraq’s cabinet finally approved a troop agreement with the United States. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari and U.S. Amb. Ryan Crocker signed the security pact in Baghdad ...

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591504_081117_iraq2.jpg

Top Story

Remember all those arguments over U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq?

It may not be up to him anymore.

Top Story

Remember all those arguments over U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq?

It may not be up to him anymore.

On Sunday, Iraq’s cabinet finally approved a troop agreement with the United States. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari and U.S. Amb. Ryan Crocker signed the security pact in Baghdad today after nearly a year of arduous negotiations. Under the terms of the deal, which must still be voted on by the Iraqi Parliament, all American troops must leave the country by 2011 and pull back from cities next summer.

The agreement also places significant new restrictions on what U.S. forces are allowed to do. Beginning Jan. 1, they must now, for instance, obtain warrants from Iraq courts in order to make arrests.

It’s not a guarantee the agreement will pass, but the support of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani strongly suggests that it will. Another key shift, some analysts told the New York Times, may have been Obama’s electoral victory, which softened Iran’s opposition to the pact. A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry did not reject the agreement in remarks today.

Economy

G-20 leaders pledged Saturday to improve their regulations and crack down on dubious lending practices. But some experts fear these policies could impair economic recovery. The group will next meet on April 30, 2009, 101 days into the Obama administration, when more substantive moves will likely be made.

Foreign manufacturers could easily step in if U.S. automakers fail, according to the New York Times.

U.S. Presidential Transition

President-elect Obama sat for his first post-election interview, with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes.

The New York Times reports that serious vetting of Hillary Clinton has begun.

The Obama transition team is moving cautiously on homeland security.

Americas

Mexico’s drug violence is spilling into U.S. cities as far away as Boston.

Need a job? Demand for bodyguards is up in Mexico.

It’s not just schools that are collapsing in Haiti. It’s everything else, too.

Asia

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he would protect Mullah Mohammed Omar if the Taliban leader decided to enter negotiations.

Pakistan and the United States have tacitly agreed on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for airstrikes within Pakistani territory, the Washington Post reports.

Japan’s economy is officially in recession.

China hints that it may be building an aircraft carrier.

Middle East and Africa

A top deputy to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in trouble for attending a “Koran dance.”

Fighting continues in eastern Congo despite a cease-fire agreement.

Europe

France has captured Spain’s most wanted man, a Basque separatist leader.

A female prisoner’s pardon request is becoming a key test for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

A German professor hired to reach out to Muslims now says he doesn’t think the Prophet Mohammed really existed.

The United States is moving its embassy across the Thames, London’s great divide.

Today’s Agenda

Tibetan exiles are meeting in Dharamsala, India, to plot a change in strategy.

The Wall Street Journal previews Obama’s meeting today with Republican Sen. John McCain, his erstwhile rival for the presidency.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband embarks on a tour of the Middle East.

The U.S. Congress is back for a lame-duck session. The European Parliament is holding a plenary session in Strasbourg, France.

Photo: Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office/Getty Images

Tag: Iraq

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