News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran cleric blasts US-Iraqi military agreement

Iran cleric blasts US-Iraqi military agreement

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ImageAFP: A senior Iranian cleric on Friday slammed as treachery to Islam a security accord due to be sealed between Baghdad and Washington on the presence of American troops in Iraq.

ImageTEHRAN (AFP) — A senior Iranian cleric on Friday slammed as treachery to Islam a security accord due to be sealed between Baghdad and Washington on the presence of American troops in Iraq.

This agreement shows that "Iraqi tribunals will not be able to judge American military personnel and employees of firms who work for the US military," Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said during weekly prayers in Tehran.

In statements carried by Iranian public radio, Khatami also said that the agreement will put key Iraqi ministries such as defence under US supervision for a decade.

"American forces will keep the ministries of defence, interior and intelligence under their supervision for 10 years… and will be able to have private jails in Iraq," he said.

Khatami charged that the accord will allow US troops to launch attacks from Iraq "against any country that backs terrorist groups."

"It is open-ended slavery. It is the worst humiliation.

"Any hand that signs such an agreement will be considered by Iran as a traitor to Islam, to Shiism and to the Iraqi people," he added.

The United States and Iraq are holding negotiations on an accord dubbed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which is aimed at giving a legal basis to the presence of US troops in Iraq after December 31, when a UN resolution defining their current status expires.

Iran strongly opposes the US military presence in its neighbour to the west, and has been repeatedly accused by Washington of arming and training Shiite militias in Iraq, particularly those of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Tehran denies the allegations and says it backs the Shiite-led government in Baghdad of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

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