Obama's Iraq advisers are in limbo

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A wave of new U.S. military advisers President Obama has authorized to go to Iraq are stuck with nowhere to go because the administration has yet to reach a deal with the Iraqi government that would grant them immunity.

U.S. officials say the advisers need the necessary legal protection for the new mission, and on Monday acknowledged that new forces won’t even go to Iraq until there is a deal.

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“We're not going to move any personnel until the proper legal framework's been established,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren. “They'll begin to flow in as soon as we've got all the legal framework established." 

Soldiers in Iraq who are already pegged to be advisers won’t be able to take on the new responsibilities until there is a legal agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.

President Obama announced last week that he would be sending up to 300 advisers to Iraq as a response to Sunni militants in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that have taken over much of northern Iraq.

However, so far, none of the teams have been formed, partly because of the lack of an immunity deal. The administration plans to form the first several teams from people already stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

U.S. forces left Iraq at the end of 2011 after the Obama administration was unable to reach a deal with the Iraqi government that would have given immunity to forces staying in Iraq.

Republicans have blamed new violence in Iraq on the failure to reach a deal that would have allowed the U.S. to maintain a presence in Iraq.

Warren said U.S. officials are working with the existing Iraqi government to reach a deal.

“It's a matter of simply working through the process,” Warren said. “I'm not prepared to put a timeline on it. We're working through the process as quickly as we can.”