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Thousands of Iraqis protest agreement for indefinite US occupation
Friday, May 30, 2008 :Tens of thousands of Iraqis protested in a number of cities Friday against the proposed agreement between the puppet regime of Nouri al-Maliki and the Bush administration that would codify a long-term US military occupation.
In a secret videoconference last November, Maliki and Bush signed an agreement, a cynically titled Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship, which outlined plans for the establishment of permanent American military bases and preferential treatment for US energy conglomerates and investors to exploit Iraqi oil reserves. The full details of the pact, including the general dimensions of the American occupation force, were to be worked out by July 31, 2008.
Negotiations on the deal began in March and US officials have told the media that the two governments are close to an agreement. The White House and the Pentagon claim that the deal is merely intended to replace the United Nations mandate that expires December 31.
Last month, US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker claimed during a US Senate hearing that the agreement would cover the basic authorizations and protections to allow American troops to continue their operations but would not specify troop levels or establish permanent bases.
Crocker asserted, We anticipate that it will expressly forswear them [permanent bases] ... and it will not tie the hands of the next administration. These are simply new lies from the Bush administration. Whether the agreement calls the US facilities permanent bases or not, or sidesteps the issue altogether, such a deal has no other purpose apart from ensuring that the US military will remain indefinitely to suppress internal opposition and protect American geopolitical interests, above all, its designs on Iraqi oil supplies.Read More
Friday, May 30, 2008 : At a conference in Sweden this week, international dignitaries met for the International Compact on Iraq. The Christian Science Monitor's Howard LaFranchi talks about the goals they set.
Friday, May 30, 2008 : Demonstrations expected against a long-term US military presence in the country.
Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia leader of the Mahdi Army, has called for the demonstrations after Friday prayers to pressure the Iraqi government into abandoning the proposed agreement.
Washington wants the Iraqi government to provide a legal framework for US troops to remain in Iraq beyond the expiration of a UN mandate in December. Officials from the administration of George Bush, the US president, told Al Jazeera they expect to finalise the deal by the end of July.
Sheikh Salah Obaidi, spokesman for al-Sadr's bloc in parliament, said the call for protests is not a "threat" to the Iraqi government, but a "warning".