That reading of Iraqi public opinion is subject to dispute. A September poll conducted by ABC News and the BBC found that 47 percent of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave Iraq immediately, up from 26 percent in November 2005 and 35 percent last winter. Polls in Iraq should be taken with a grain of salt, given the inherent problems of polling under violent conditions. But only seven percent said U.S. troops should "remain until the Iraqi security forces can operate independently, and zero said the U.S. should "never leave." These are hardly auspicious figures for a long-term security arrangement.
Regardless, Dabbagh doesn't expect the parliament to scotch the agreement -- and hinted that the Maliki government will make sure it doesn't. "At the end, it won't go to the Council of Representatives unless it is approved by the main blocs," said. "When it goes there, it will be a minor debate and there will be a pre-approval." The Monday declaration of principles for the upcoming negotiations, he said, received pre-approval by the principal factions within the parliament.
Given the sectarian deadlock and acrimony within the parliament, there's reason to view that statement skeptically, especially if Iraqis believe the deal opens the door to permanent occupation. But perhaps Maliki truly means to play against type and create parliamentary consensus for a long-term U.S.-Iraqi security accord. Perhaps he intends to shove the deal through parliament. (Dabbagh said if he is "not mistaken," only a "simple majority" of parliamentarians is needed for approval; the Constitution says it's a two-thirds majority.) But unlike President Bush, the Maliki government has now committed itself -- rhetorically, at least -- to going through the legislature before finalizing any U.S.-Iraq security deal.