Lebanese Shiite cleric opposes US-Iraq pact
AP, October 21, 2008
BEIRUT, Lebanon: Lebanon's top Shiite cleric criticized Tuesday a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security pact, saying the Baghdad government has no right to "legitimize" the presence of foreign troops.
Iraqi-born Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah says any security pact should call for an imminent and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
Fadlallah's edict came in response to questions by some Shiite members of Iraq's parliament who asked the cleric to give his opinion about the proposed security pact.
The cleric was born in the Iraqi Shiite holy city of Najaf and wields some influence among Iraq's Shiite majority. He is one of the founders of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa Party.
"No authority, establishment or an official or nonofficial organization has the legitimacy to impose occupation on its people, legitimize it or extend its stay in Iraq," Fadlallah said in the edict released by his office.
The agreement provides for American troops to leave Baghdad and other Iraqi cities by the end of June and fully withdraw from the country by the end of 2011 unless the government asks them to stay.
It would also give Iraq limited authority to prosecute U.S. soldiers and contractors for crimes committed off-base and off-duty, limit U.S. authority to search homes and detain people and give Iraqis more say in the conduct of American military operations.
Fadlallah said that any pact should call for an "unconditional withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq," and put a "fixed and imminent timetable for a complete American withdrawal from Iraq."
He added that no U.S. bases or centers should be allowed to stay adding that any American presence would have to be based on normal diplomatic missions.
Fadlallah added that the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq should not be linked to the improvement of the security situation in the country because the Americans can cause security problems in order to extend the stay of their forces.
See IS comments on this issue, Thousands in Iraq protest security pact with US.
Iraq Cabinet seeks changes in security pact with US, LA Times, October 21, 2008
Cleric in Iran issues fatwa against US-Iraqi pact, AP, October 21, 2008
Gates gives warning on US-Iraq pact, Aljazeera, October 21, 2008
Will Iraq finally end the colonial era?, By Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star, October 22, 2008