Iraqi Conclave Says 'Resistance Forces' not Terrorist

A pact of honor, calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, among other things, has been signed in Baghdad.

The signatories include “over 57 political parties and influential tribes in the country,” said Bahaa al-Araji of the [Muqtada al] Sadr movement which helped draft the pact. “The groups that are signatories to our pact of honor represent the entire spectrum of Iraqi society.”

He said any government assuming office after the December 15 elections will have to taken the signatories’ demands into account.

The Sadr movement, led by the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, wields tremendous power among impoverished Shiites across the country. Among the signatories were Ahmad Chalabi, the current deputy prime minister, and representatives from influential Shiite and Sunni factions.

The pact calls explicitly on the new government to make a clear distinction between “resistance” of foreign troops and “terror.”

Araji said the pact “considers resistance a legitimate right but condemns terror, violence, the killing of civilians and kidnapping.”

He said the pact also demands “the departure of occupation forces in the light of a specific timetable. The legacy of the occupation troops must be removed and no concession to set up bases, whether temporary or permanent, be given them.”

In regard to the Jewish State, the pact says that the new government must be under obligation no to normalize relations with Israel.

The demands included in the pact are not binding. However, the pact shows that pressure for the withdrawal of U.S. troops is building in Iraq, just as it is in the United States.

All major factions of the Shiite coalition have signed the pact, and al-Sadr movement is reported to have agreed to join with the coalition on the understanding that the pact will be implemented it if they win the elections.

The pact even calls for the release from both U.S. and Iraqi jails of what it describes as “the sons of the honorable resistance,” currently raging in Sunni-dominated areas.

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