HUGE GAPS IN MAJOR RELIGIOUS GROUPS
A final deal is hard to be reached as there are divisive standpoints among the main political groups in Iraq.
The anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a vital ally for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, was strongly opposed to prolonging the presence of U.S. forces. That sent Maliki into a dilemma as the coalition government would be at risk if the Shiite leader quit the parliament.
Besides, Sadr, with high prestige in the Shiite grassroots, threatened to reassemble the Mahdi Army fighters and launch anti-U.S. attacks if the American troops had not withdrawn after the deadline.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish bloc, the largest gainer in the Iraq War, hopes for a long-term presence of the American soldiers, especially in the disputable region of Kirkuk.
Worries from the other religious party Sunni Muslim will be deepened as the Shiites in neighboring Iran will expand its clout without the threats posed by the U.S. military.
An overwhelming majority of Iraqis also are strongly against the U.S.forces, impelling the prime minister to propose a parliamentary vote on the troublesome issue.