American officials suggest that tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq may extend their stay in the country well beyond the 2011withdrawal deadline.
US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey said on Friday that more US military forces may be needed to counter what he called “threats to Iraq's stability, [and they] will remain in 2012."
The prospects of a longer US military stay in Iraq contradict the clauses of a 2008 agreement between Baghdad and Washington.
The agreement established that US combat forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, and that all US forces would be completely out of Iraq by December 31, 2011.
The Iraqi government initially intended to hold a popular vote on the agreement but later succumbed to US bully-tactics and accepted the agreement.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, more than 1,300,000 people have been killed in Iraq, 4.7 million displaced, 5 million children orphaned -- nearly half of the country's children -- and the health status has deteriorated to a level not seen since the 1950s.