Opposition grows among Iraqi clerics on US troops agreement
Opposition was growing Friday among Iraqi religious leaders about a draft agreement worked out between the US and Iraqi governments on the status of US forces in Iraq, reported dpa.
"The Shiite clergy is very worried about this security agreement with the USA," said Imam Sadr Eddin al-Qzbangi, a confidant of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, speaking before a crowd of hundreds in Najaf.
Meanwhile, a Sunni council of religious leaders issued a fatwa, explaining why the agreement must be rejected. Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also voiced opposition to the proposal.
At issue is a reported agreement between the United States and Iraq on the status of US forces operating in Iraq. Details have not been released, both sides say, because negotiations are ongoing. The plan would specify the legal status of US forces in Iraq.
Topics to be decided in the agreement include: how long the US military can hold prisoners without charging them; whether the Iraqi government should be informed in advance of operations; and whether US soldiers should be subject to US or Iraqi criminal law.
Clerics are especially focused on the question of which nation's courts would have jurisdiction on US troops. Clerics have argued that the agreement should not be decided solely by Iraq's legislature, but put before its citizens in a referendum.
According to reports, the proposed agreement would only allow US soldiers to appear before Iraqi courts for charges not specifically linked to a military operation. Additionally, it would specify that US troops would leave Iraq in 2011, if the security situation allows.
It remained unclear Friday if there was enough support in the Iraqi parliament to approve the agreement.