US troops may stay in Iraq beyond 2011

2010-11-09 17:06
Kuala Lumpur – US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday said Washington was open to keeping troops in Iraq beyond a 2011 deadline, but it was up to Baghdad to make a request.

"In terms of the future strategic relationship beyond the end of 2011, I would say that the initiative clearly needs to come from the Iraqis," Gates said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

"We are open to discussing it," he said.

Gates, however, said any talks on the issue would have to wait until Iraqi leaders agree a power-sharing deal and name key ministers, amid months of stalemate following parliamentary elections.

"We'll stand by and we're ready to have that discussion if and when they want to raise it with us," he said.

A security accord requires all US troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011, but officials in both countries have suggested a smaller US mission will probably stay on after next year to provide air power and other military assistance.

Advise and assist

About 50 000 US troops are currently in Iraq under a new "advise and assist" mission with Iraqi forces taking the lead.

Eight months after parliamentary elections in March, Iraqi politicians have yet to form a government amid a deadlock between Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish blocs.

Rival Iraqi leaders met to discuss a proposal on Monday in the northern city of Arbil but emerged without a deal.

Iraq's second general election since the 2003 US-led invasion ended in deadlock after none of the main parties won enough of the 325 seats in parliament to form a majority government.

Retired American officers and analysts say the US may need to keep thousands of military personnel in Iraq beyond next year to contain sectarian tensions and to bolster Baghdad's fledgling military.

Baghdad's military remains heavily dependent on US logistical support, air power, equipment and expertise, while many Baghdad politicians privately acknowledge that American troops are needed as a peacekeeping force in reserve.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    robert gates  |  iraq  |  us publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

16 stats and facts: Springboks v USA
Bryan Habana closing in on try record
Meyer lauds ‘new’ Bok 9 and 10
VIDEO: Bok fans belt out national anthem
Traffic Alerts

Are you burning the candle at both ends? Listen to your body and your emotional reactions. Know when to slow down or stop. It is more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.