American and Iraqi officials are no longer optimistic that a long-term security agreement will soon be reached because “negotiations are complicated by political currents in both countries.” AFP reports that “large crowds of Shiites” gathered yesterday to denounce the security pact that the Iraqi government is debating:
“No, no to colonization! Out, out you occupier!” the crowd shouted in the centre of Sadr City where fierce battles raged in March and April between Shiite militants and US forces in which hundreds of people were killed. […]
In the central town of Kufa, protesters chanted anti-US and anti-Israel slogans. “No to America! No to Israel! We reject signing the agreement with the occupation,” shouted devotees.
In the city of Karbala, an aide of revered Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged Baghdad to refrain from signing a deal that would compromise national interests.
“If the government signs the deal it has to preserve the interests of the people, not compromise sovereignty and not permit Iraq to be used as a base for attacks on neighboring countries,” said Sheikh Abdul al-Mahdi al-Karbalae.