TEHRAN, July 22 (UPI) -- The withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq would pave the way toward a brighter future in the country, an Iranian lawmaker said Tuesday.
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who heads the arbitrating Expediency Council as well as the deliberative Assembly of Experts, said the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 freed the Iraqi people from the grasp of Saddam Hussein, but replaced the dictatorship with an occupying and hegemonic force, the Iranian Mehr News Agency reported.
The former Iranian president also said the claims by U.S. officials that his country was meddling in Iraqi internal affairs was a "blatant lie," adding the "occupiers" used the allegation to blame others for their failed policy in Iraq.
He also voiced his opposition to the security agreement currently being negotiated between the United States and Iraq, saying it would extend the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
"Iraqi people should be given the opportunity to determine their own fate," Rafsanjani said.