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Iraqis protest against proposed security agreement with US
Monday, October 20, 2008 :Tens of thousands of Iraqis marched from the working class districts of Sadr City to the centre of Baghdad on Saturday to denounce moves by the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to finalise a security agreement with the Bush administration. The pact is intended to provide a fig-leaf of legality for the ongoing occupation of Iraq by the US military after a United Nations mandate expires on December 31.
The demonstration was organised by the Shiite movement of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and appears to have been in part aimed at refurbishing its anti-occupation credentials. Political support for the Sadrists has been waning since Sadrs accommodation with the destruction of the movements armed wing, the Mahdi Army, during a series of US military and Iraqi government offensives earlier in the year. A statement by Sadrwho is believed to be in Iranwas read to the crowd condemning the security pact as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty. Other speakers demanded the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops, while effigies of Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were burned.
The political calculations of the Sadrists aside, the protest underscored again the depth of opposition among the Iraqi working class and urban poor to the US occupation, which has cost the lives of over one million people and devastated much of the country. The only local beneficiaries of the American invasion are those who have positions in the US-backed government and are using them to funnel millions of dollars into their pockets. Last month, Iraq was ranked as the second-most corrupt state by the Corruption Perceptions Index, out of 180 surveyed countries. Major foreign firms have also benefited, such as contractors Haliburton and Bechtel and the major oil conglomerates that are bidding for a stake in the soon-to-be-privatised Iraqi oil industry.Read More