News On Iran & Its Neighbours Iraq Iran: Hardliners urge Iraq to reject security pact

Iran: Hardliners urge Iraq to reject security pact

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ImageAP: Hardline Iranian newspapers urged the Iraqi parliament Tuesday to reject a security pact with the United States that would keep American troops in Iraq for three more years, warning that the deal was a "sellout" to the U.S.

The Associated Press

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI

ImageTEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Hardline Iranian newspapers urged the Iraqi parliament Tuesday to reject a security pact with the United States that would keep American troops in Iraq for three more years, warning that the deal was a "sellout" to the U.S.

The Iranian government harshly denounced the pact for months but toned down its opposition last week after the Iraqi Cabinet approved the deal — perhaps in anticipation that its Shiite allies in the Iraqi parliament will also vote their support.

But criticism of the deal by two hardline Iranian newspapers Tuesday indicates opposition to the pact and the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq remains strong among key circles in the Iranian government.

The hardline daily Kayhan, which is run by a representative of Iran's top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described the pact in an editorial as a "sellout of Iraq to the U.S." and said it would turn the country into a "source of danger" to its neighbors.

Iran has expressed fears that Iraq will be used as a base by the U.S. to attack the country's neighbors. But the current version of the pact bars U.S. forces from using Iraqi territory to attack neighboring nations.

Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, who is also close to Khamenei, said the agreement would infringe on Iraqi sovereignty.

"There are articles in the deal that are a kind of deception … and contradict Iraq's sovereignty," Larijani was quoted as saying Monday by Iran's official news agency.

However, another close ally of Khamenei, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, the head of Iran's judiciary system, praised the Iraqi government last week, saying it did a good job negotiating the agreement with the U.S.

Shahroudi's comments reflect the thinking of conservatives within the ruling system, but not all hardliners or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has strongly opposed the pact in the past but has not commented publicly since the Iraqi Cabinet approved the deal.

Khamenei has also expressed opposition to the pact in the past but has not spoken publicly since the Iraqi Cabinet voted its support.

The hardline daily Jomhuri-e-Eslami warned in a front-page editorial Tuesday that a popular uprising will erupt in Iraq if parliament approves the deal.

"The only way to free Iraq from U.S. occupation is resistance against excessive demands, not a sellout of Iraq to aggressors," said the newspaper.

Iraq's ruling coalition has a majority in parliament and could secure at least a thin majority if the legislature votes as scheduled Wednesday on the security deal. But Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's campaign to secure broader support has run into resistance from lawmakers who either want the Americans to leave immediately or seek to extract political concessions in return for supporting the government.

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