Iraqi leaders call for timetable for withdrawal of U.S.-led




 
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November 24th, 2005  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Iraqi leaders call for timetable for withdrawal of U.S.-led


Iraqi leaders call for timetable for withdrawal of U.S.-led forces

By SALAH NASRAWI - Associated Press Writer
CAIRO, Egypt - (AP) Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites,
Kurds and Sunnis called for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led
forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of
resistance.
The final communique condemned terrorism, but was a clear
acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled
as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or
institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens. The
communique was hammered out Monday, at the end of three days of negotiations
at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab
League.
The participants in Cairo agreed on "calling for the withdrawal of
foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an
immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the
borders and the security situation" and end terror attacks.
Sunni leaders have been pressing the Shiite-majority government to
agree to a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops. The statement
recognized that goal, but did not lay down a specific time _ reflecting
instead the government's stance that Iraqi security forces must be built up
first.
On Monday, Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr suggested U.S.-led
forces should be able to leave Iraq by the end of next year, saying the
one-year extension of the mandate for the multinational force in Iraq by the
U.N. Security Council this month could be the last.
"By the middle of next year we will be 75 percent done in building
our forces and by the end of next year it will be fully ready," he told the
Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.
The final communiqué's attempt to define terrorism omitted any
reference to attacks against U.S. or Iraqi forces. Delegates from across the
political and religious spectrum said the omission was intentional. They
spoke anonymously, saying they feared retribution.
"Though resistance is a legitimate right for all people, terrorism
does not represent resistance. Therefore, we condemn terrorism and acts of
violence, killing and kidnapping targeting Iraqi citizens and humanitarian,
civil, government institutions, national resources and houses of worships,"
the document said.
The final communique also stressed participants' commitment to
Iraq's unity and called for the release of all "innocent detainees" who have
not been convicted by courts. It asked that allegations of torture against
prisoners be investigated and those responsible be held accountable.
The statement also demanded "an immediate end to arbitrary raids and
arrests without a documented judicial order."
The communique included no means for implementing its provisions,
leaving it unclear what it will mean in reality other than to stand as a
symbol of a first step toward bringing the feuding parties together in an
agreement in principle.
"We are committed to this statement as far as it is in the best
interests of the Iraqi people," said Harith al-Dhari, leader of the powerful
Association of Muslim Scholars, a hard-line Sunni group. He said he had
reservations about the document as a whole, and delegates said he had again
expressed strong opposition to the concept of federalism enshrined in Iraq's
new constitution.
The gathering was part of a U.S.-backed league attempt to bring the
communities closer together and assure Sunni Arab participation in a
political process now dominated by Iraq's Shiite majority and large Kurdish
minority.
The conference also decided on broad conditions for selecting
delegates to a wider reconciliation gathering in the last week of February
or the first week of March in Iraq. It essentially opens the way for all
those who are willing to renounce violence against fellow Iraqis.
Shiites had been strongly opposed to participation in the conference
by Sunni Arab officials from the former Saddam regime or from pro-insurgency
groups. That objection seemed to have been glossed over in the communique.
The Cairo meeting was marred by differences between participants at
times, and at one point Shiite and Kurdish delegates stormed out of a closed
session when one of the speakers said they had sold out to the Americans.