The US public is increasingly opposed to the military
presence in Iraq [AFP]
An open-ended, long-term US military presence in Iraq is set to be formalised as officials from both sides have started discussions to put in place an agreement signed last November by George Bush, the US president, and Nuri Al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister.

This move has raised concerns that Bush is working out the future of US troops in Iraq in the countdown to the November 2008 presidential elections - despite increased public opposition in America to involvement in Iraq.

The Democrats have accused Bush of leaving office with the US military tied down in Iraq and stretched to breaking point, with no clear exit strategy from Iraq. 

However, Bush administration officials insist that the continued US presence is at the invitation of the Iraqi government in order to stabilise the security situation in the country and its economy. 

Inside Iraq investigates the discussions between the American and Iraqi governments, and the implications the deal will have for Iraq and the US military presence in the country.

Our guests this week are Phylliss Bennis, a senior analyst at the Institute of Policy Studies, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, a resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.

Watch part one of this episode of Inside Iraq on YouTube

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This episode of Inside Iraq aired on Friday, January 18, 2008

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Source: Al Jazeera