BAGHDAD - Iraq wants to eliminate any chance U.S. forces will stay here after 2011 under a proposed security pact and to expand Iraqi legal jurisdiction over U.S. troops until then, a close ally of the prime minister said Thursday.
Those demands, which were presented to U.S. officials this week, could derail the deal - delivering a diplomatic blow to Washington in the final weeks of the Bush administration.
Failure to reach an agreement before year's end could force a suspension of American military operations, and U.S. commanders have been warning Iraqi officials that could endanger security improvements.
The current draft, hammered out in months of tortuous negotiations, would have U.S. soldiers leave Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011, unless the two governments agreed to an extension for training and supporting Iraqi security forces. Ali al-Adeeb, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's inner circle, said the government wants that possibility excluded by language adding finality to the end of 2011 date.
"The Iraqi side wants to remove any mention of a possible extension of U.S. troops, fearing that the existing clause might be subject to misinterpretation or could bear different interpretation," he said. Otherwise, he said the United States might demand an extension "depending on their evaluation" of the security situation and the state of readiness within Iraq's army and police.
U.S. officials have privately suggested 2012 is too early for Iraqi forces to be truly ready to maintain order.