Baghdad, Nov.22 : Iraq's Mahdi Army, which is led by rebel leader Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr, has warned of a new insurgency across the country if the United States decides not to withdraw its troops till 2011.
"No, no to the agreement of humiliation," al-Sadr's followers chanted at a demonstration against the pact in a square in Baghdad on Friday.
According to The Times, at one point, an effigy of US President George W Bush, dressed in a black suit and carrying a suitcase labelled "security agreement", was hoisted up a parapet where the Saddam statue once stood in Firdous Square. After a special session of Friday prayers, members of the crowd swarmed over to the effigy and pelted it with shoes, boots and bottles of water, knocking the scarecrow-like figure off its post. Then they tore the dummy apart and set it alight. Iraqi MPs have been locked in an often rancorous row over an accord, which requires US troops to leave towns and cities by the middle of next year and to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. It was approved by the Cabinet last Sunday.
Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, defends the deal as a long-desired withdrawal timetable for the 150,000-strong US force.
Opponents, such as the 30 MPs loyal to Hojatoleslam al-Sadr, argue that it merely extends the occupation beyond a United Nations' mandate that expires at the end of the year.