Al-Hakim: “US Troops Out!”
Le Monde reported Monday that Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the cleric who leads the United Iraqi Alliance, rejects a long-term presence for US troops in Iraq:
Permanent American bases in Iraq? The question seems so incongruous to His Most Austere “Eminence Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim,” (as the leader of the Shiite party which won the January 30 elections identifies himself on his visiting card) that he almost bursts out laughing. “Ha! Ha! No. No one in Iraq desires the establishment of permanent foreign bases on our land. The United Nations Security Council resolutions are clear: it will be up to the elected Iraqi government, when the time comes, to give those forces a specific departure date. As soon as possible.”
The article also notes that al-Hakim is an even more vehement proponent of ‘rooting out’ the ex-Baathists from Iraqi society than is Ahmad Chalabi.
It seems to me that the US military long ago blew any chance of remaining in Iraq for the long haul– Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, Najaf and other actions have been pretty deadly. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which al-Hakim heads, certainly wants an early end to the US presence.
Iyad Allawi has rebuffed an offer from the United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite religious parties) to join them and accept a position as a vice-president or deputy. Allawi, currently interim prime minister, refuses to join the executive as anything less than prime minister. The UIA plan of establishing a government of national unity has therefore hit an obstacle.