The Middle East Newsline has confirmed the Iraqi government has reaffirmed the June 30 deadline that calls for American troops to withdraw from Iraqi cities – less than two months from now.

The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has decided to reject U.S. proposals to extend the redeployment deadline until late 2009. The U.S. military had sought to remain in Baghdad and Mosul to battle the resurgence of al-Qaida.

“The Iraqi government is committed to the dates for the agreed-upon withdrawal of American forces from all the cities and towns by June 30 of this year,” Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

Under the Status of Forces agreement, which went in effect this year, the U.S. military was required to withdraw from Iraqi cities by the end of June. The complete pullout is supposed take place by 2012.

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U.S. commanders had argued that Iraqi security forces remain incapable of battling al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein loyalists in Baghdad and Mosul. They said the dismantling of the 100,000-member Sunni-dominated al-Sahwa auxiliary police force, formed by the United States to battle al-Qaida, has also harmed the counterinsurgency campaign.

The U.S. military announcement last month marked the highest rate of casualties in Iraq since September 2008. In late April, the military also reported negotiations with the Iraqi government to extend the withdrawal deadline.

“It’s a political decision, not a military one,” the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, said.

During a meeting with Iraqi commanders in Mosul, Gen. Odierno said a U.S. military departure from the city would require a closer partnership with the Iraq Army and security forces. The U.S. general said this would ensure the continuation of training and reconstruction projects.

Still, the al-Maliki government concluded that Iraqi security forces, with continued U.S. guidance, were capable of staging counterinsurgency operations. Officials said any extension of the redeployment deadline would spark unrest within the majority Shiite community.

“These dates cannot be extended, and they are in keeping with the process of transitioning and handing over responsibility to Iraqi security forces, according to what was agreed upon,” Mr. al-Dabbagh said.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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