Top Iraqi cleric warns of uprising

June 9, 2008 at 6:16 PM
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BAGHDAD, June 9 (UPI) -- A leading Iraqi Shiite cleric said Monday the status of forces agreement between Washington and Baghdad could lead to an uprising in Iraq.

"It is not to the benefit of the U.S. as a major power to lessen the sovereignty of Iraq. This treaty is humiliating to the Iraqi people, and might cause an uprising against it and those who support it," Grand Ayatollah Mohammad al-Modarresi told the Iranian state-run English-language service, Press TV.

Modarresi said the strategic framework between Iraq and the United States needs a full understanding of the situation in Iraq before negotiations on the arrangement proceed. "It will surely fail if kept as it is," he said.

The current U.N. mandate for Iraq expires in 2009. The United States wants to establish 50 military bases in Iraq, provide immunity to security personnel from Iraqi law and maintain the right to conduct autonomous military operations as part of the legal framework defining the relationship with Iraq.

Iranian officials expressed concern over the arrangement, though Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited the region during the weekend to assure Tehran that Iraq would not be used as a staging point for U.S.-led military operations against Iran.

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials told The Times of London Monday U.S. troops would be restricted to their military bases and security personnel subject to Iraqi law as part of the status of forces agreement.

"We do need the Americans to leave the cities and the streets," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. "They have to be there in the back and ... in their camps. Whenever we ask them, they will be ready to support and help."

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