NYTImes: BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is facing growing opposition to a proposed security agreement that would set out how long American forces and military bases stayed in Iraq...
Tens of thousands of Shiites in Baghdad and southern Iraq who are loyal to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr denounced the negotiations in rallies after noon prayers on Friday, criticizing any pact that would allow American troops to establish a long-term presence in Iraq. “No America! No Israel!” demonstrators shouted in Sadr City, the Baghdad district that is Mr. Sadr’s base of power.
“This isn’t an Iraqi government, it’s an American government,” said Muhammad Mohsin, a 25-year-old laborer who attended prayers in Sadr City, where clerics delivered sermons condemning the negotiations and demonstrators later burned American flags. “The Americans keep pressuring Maliki to carry out what they want. The agreement will only serve the Americans’ interests.”
Mr. Sadr, who appears to be using the controversy to build his support after the Iraqi military occupied Sadrist strongholds in Baghdad and Basra, has demanded that whatever agreement emerges from negotiations be put to a national referendum.
But there are many Iraqi politicians who support the negotiations, including Sunni leaders who view an American military presence as a bulwark against what they fear could be an attempt by Shiite leaders backed by Iran to renew a sectarian grab for Baghdad and the mixed areas around the capital.
“We think that this agreement will guarantee the rights of Iraq and the United States,” said Adnan al-Dulaimi, a leader of Tawafiq, the largest Sunni political bloc. “If the American forces withdraw from Iraq before the right time, a state of chaos and civil war will ensue.”
But opposition to the security pact is not confined just to the Sadrists. Officials from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, an important Maliki ally, said several parts of the proposal violated Iraq’s sovereignty...