Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh reacted sharply to Admiral Mullen on Wednesday. Dabbagh said, "It is not correct to force Iraqis into making a choice and it is not appropriate to talk with the Iraqis in this way."
This against the back drop of tens of thousands of al-Sadr followers who rallied in Baghdad against the proposal on Saturday. The mass public show of opposition came as U.S. and Iraqi leaders face a December 31st deadline to replace the U.N. mandate authorizing the U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
In another blow to the agreement, Grand Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri issued a fatwa denouncing the proposed security pact. Now his stand against the security pact has a lot to do with a struggle within the Shiite hiearchy. Grand Ayatollah Al-Haeri declines to live in Iraq under U.S. occupation and currently resides in Iranian holy city of Qom, and is a rival to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf.
A portion of Grand Ayatollah Al-Haeri's statement:
"We have learned of the pressures exerted by the Occupation forces on the Iraqi government for the purpose of obtaining its assent to a humiliating agreement termed 'a long term security agreement,' which leads to Iraq's loss of its national sovereignty, and its acceptance of humiliation and abasement."
"Whoso aids the Occupiers in achieving what they desire, God shall not forgive his sins, nor will the oppressed Iraqi nation go easy on him, norwill the blessed centers of Islamic learning nor any Muslim with a conscience who believes in the Judgment Day."
Grand Ayatollah Al-Haeri holds great sway with a large number of Shiites, and his words could gum up the works.
One way or another, As of Jan. 1, US troops will not be able to act at will in Iraq but rather will have to get assent from Iraqi authorities for campaigns.