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Thousands of Iraqis Protest U.S. Occupation

Tens of thousands of Iraqis, with remote guidance from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, joined in a demonstration in Baghdad on Saturday to implore the Iraqi parliament to reject a security pact with the U.S. before the year’s end.


AP via Google News:

Al-Sadr’s message was addressed to Iraqi lawmakers and read by his aide Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Mohammadawi before a huge crowd of mostly young men waving Iraqi and green Shiite flags and chanting slogans including “no, no to the agreement” and “yes to Iraq.”

“The Iraqi government has abandoned its duty before God and its people and referred the agreement to you knowing that ratifying it will stigmatize Iraq and its government for years to come,” he said.

Al-Sadr, who is living in Iran, also cast doubt on the Iraqi government’s argument that the security pact is a step toward ending the U.S. presence in Iraq. The deal would require U.S. forces to leave by Dec. 31, 2011 unless Iraq asked some of them to stay.

“If they tell you that the agreement ends the presence of the occupation, let me tell you that the occupier will retain its bases. And whoever tells you that it gives us sovereignty is a liar,” al-Sadr said. “I am confident that you brothers in parliament will champion the will of the people over that of the occupier … Do not betray the people.”

The demonstrators marched from the main Shiite district of Sadr City to the more central Mustansiriyah Square in eastern Baghdad.

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