January 23, 2005
The Sunday Times (UK)

Go Home Yanks, Says PM in Waiting

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',", 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

"UK memo says US, UK readying Iraqi withdrawal-report," Reuters, July 9, 2005

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