Iraq Allows 100 British Naval Trainers to Return
Published: October 13, 2009
Filed at 10:06 a.m. ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament Tuesday signed a deal allowing up to 100 British Royal Navy trainers to return to Iraq to help the Iraqi navy protect oil platforms.
British troops had withdrawn from southern Iraq to Kuwait after the Iraqi parliament repeatedly failed to pass an agreement that would have allowed some to remain.
Opposition from some politicians, particularly those loyal to fiery cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who reject any foreign troop presence in Iraq, had stalled the deal.
"The parliament passed the Iraqi-British security pact ... The Sadrist bloc withdrew from the session, but their withdrawal did not affect the quorum," said Abbas al-Bayati, a member of parliament's security and defence committee.
Britain -- which sent troops to the Gulf for the 2003 invasion -- has ended its mission in Iraq, withdrawing its forces earlier this year.
However, 100 British naval trainers were earmarked to help Iraq protect its southern oil terminals. The deal that passed on Tuesday allows them to stay for one year.
Iraq exports most of its oil -- whose sale the nation relies upon for nearly all of its income -- through the south.
(Reporting by Waleed Ibrahim, Writing by Mohammed Abbas and Jack Kimball)