Thousands rally in Iraq against proposed U.S troop deal
Posted on Saturday, October 18, 2008
By Hussein Kadhim and Corinne Reilly McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD — Tens of thousands of Iraqis rallied in the streets of Baghdad Saturday against a proposed American-Iraqi deal that would allow U.S. troops to stay in the country for three more years.
Muqtada al Sadr, a widely influential Shiite cleric who called for the demonstration, issued a statement demanding that Iraq's parliament reject the deal.
"These are the Iraqi people in front of you, rejecting this agreement," Sadr's statement said. "The treaty is in your hands, so the destiny and reputation of Iraq also is in your hands ... If (the government) told you that this agreement will give you sovereignty, they are liars."
After seven months of wearying back and forth, negotiators completed a draft deal this week. For it to take effect, however, the proposal must win approval from Iraq's Political Council for National Security, the prime minister's cabinet and parliament.
U.S. officials are desperately hoping to finalize the agreement before Dec. 31, when a United Nations mandate that has allowed American troops to operate in Iraq will expire. If a deal isn't in place by the end of the year, American forces in Iraq could technically become illegal occupiers. Read On