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Iraq: A resounding 'No'
by Al-Ahram Weekly (reposted)
Saturday Jun 7th, 2008 8:52 AM
Several steamy issues suggest a delay in signing the Iraq-US security agreement, writes Saif Nasrawi
Negotiations over a proposed joint Iraq-US security agreement are certainly to hit a snag in the coming few weeks amid mounting opposition to its terms by Iraq's major political factions and religious establishment.

Both Shia and Sunni Iraqi political and religious leaders recently voiced serious concerns over the pivotal issues under negotiation, including the longevity of the agreement and whether it will allow for a permanent or temporary American military presence, capacity for US troops to carry out military operations and arrests of Iraqis without Baghdad's prior permission, legal immunity for American troops and security contractors, and the possibility of American military action outside the borders of Iraq.

The negotiations on the agreement "are still in their early stages and the Iraqi side has a vision and a draft that is different'' from the draft which was presented by Washington, Iraqi government spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh said.

Last Friday, thousands of Iraqis answered a call by Moqtada Al-Sadr to protest against the planned agreement to give a legal basis to US troops to stay in Iraq after 31 December, when their United Nations' mandate expires.

Similar reservations were echoed by Iraq's most revered Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani who insisted that the deal must not compromise Iraq's sovereignty. Ahmed Al-Safi, Al-Sistani's representative in the Shia holy city of Karbala told Friday's prayers that the agreement will "burden the Iraqi people with unnecessary problems and commitments. It will jeopardise its sovereignty and negatively affects its future generations."