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11/16/08

Iraqi cabinet approves security deal with US

Source: Press TV

The Iraqi cabinet has endorsed a security agreement to be signed with the US amid speculations that the parliament will reject the deal.

The cabinet approved the long term security agreement with 27 ministers voting for it, one minister abstaining, and the remaining 10 skipping the meeting.

Lawmaker Ahmed al-Masoudi, a spokesman for the Sadr parliamentary bloc, however, said the government's endorsement of the pact "does not mean anything" as long as the deal requires the approval of a parliament which would reject it, the Voices of Iraq news agency reported on Sunday.

The agreement, which has been opposed by a majority of parliamentarians, would allow US troops to stay in Iraq for three more years after their UN mandate expires in December 2008.

Under the deal Iraqi courts would have no jurisdiction over US troops and contractors inside their bases and when on duty. Iraq would also be prohibited from meddling in operations carried out by US forces or limiting their authority.

The US would also be allowed to attack any country, which "represents a security threat to Iraq" from the country's soil.

Hazem al-Araji, a senior leader from Sadr bloc, also voiced his opposition to the approval, saying "We were surprised and shocked by the decision, which represents devotion to the occupation" through agreeing to "the occupiers' demand"

Parliament is scheduled to vote on the pact on November 24, with he first reading set for Monday, deputy speaker Khalid al-Attiya told AFP.

'Parliament will reject US-Iraq pact'

The Sadrist parliamentary bloc says the Iraqi National Assembly will reject a security pact between Baghdad and Washington, despite the government's endorsement.

MP Ahmed al-Masoudi, a spokesman for the bloc said on Sunday that the government's endorsement of the US-Iraq security pact "did not mean anything" as long as it required the approval of a parliament which would reject it, the Voices of Iraq news agency reported.

He added that a majority of the Iraqi nation was against the pact and it would be rejected by Parliament because "a large number of lawmakers from different blocs" are opposed to it.

The Sadrist MP said ratifying such an agreement by a single majority would be against the Iraqi Constitution and the Sadr bloc would stage public protests across Iraq to reject the agreement.

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