by Hala Jaber
THE Shi'ite Muslim cleric tipped to become prime minister after next
Sunday's election in Iraq has said it will be the duty of the new government
to demand the withdrawal of American forces "as soon as possible".
"No people in the world accepts occupation and nor do we accept the
continuation of American troops in Iraq," said Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader
of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
"We regard these forces to have committed many mistakes in the handling of
various issues, the first and foremost being that of security, which in turn
has contributed to the massacres, crimes and calamities that have taken
place in Iraq against the Iraqis."
In comments certain to raise eyebrows in the United States, al-Hakim spoke
of a role for Iran and Syria - both regarded in Washington as enemies in the
war on terror - along with Iraq's other neighbours, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and
Kuwait, in the security of the country. . . .
Al-Hakim, who heads a list of 228 candidates representing the United Iraqi
Alliance - a coalition of the main Shi'ite factions - refused to be drawn
into specifying a timetable for American withdrawal, saying that the details
had to be worked out after the election. . . .
James Carroll, "Facing the Truth About
Iraq," Boston Globe, September 2, 2003
"Iraq: The Coaltion of the Dwindling,"
The Wisdom Fund, March 11, 2004
Seymour Hersh, "'We've Been Taken Over by a Cult',"
Democracynow.org, January 26, 2005
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, "America's
Future in Iraq," Johns' Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies,
January 27, 2005
Scott Peterson and Dan Murphy, "Iraqis' big
issue: US exit plan," Christian Science Monitor, January 28, 2005
Patrick Wintour and Ewen MacAskill, "Hoon and
Rumsfeld agree Iraq exit strategy," Guardian, January 28, 2005
[Today Douglas Hurd, Menzies Campbell and myself have released a joint
statement setting out a fresh direction for British policy on Iraq. That
three members of different parties can reach agreement on a way forward
demonstrates that it would be possible for the British government to find a
national consensus on the way forward. . . .
The current UN mandate for the occupying forces expires in a year's time.
The key proposal of our joint statement is that both the US and UK should
inform the new assembly elected this weekend that we expect to leave by the
end of that mandate.--Robin Cook, "We must
be out of Iraq within a year," Guardian, January 29, 2005]
Stephen Hedges, "For some, it's
time to go home," Knight-Ridder Tribune, February 2, 2005
Patrick Cockburn, "Americans
and rebels begin talks on timetable for withdrawal from Iraq,"
Independent, February 22, 2005
says US, UK readying Iraqi withdrawal-report," Reuters, July 9, 2005