Lebanon divided on Iraq-U.S. security agreement

Iraqi political leaders meeting to discuss the Iraqi and U.S. security pact at the Iraqi President's office on Nov. 23 in Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo by Getty Images)

Iraqi political leaders meeting to discuss the Iraqi and U.S. security pact at the Iraqi President's office on Nov. 23 in Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo by Getty Images)

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BEIRUT - Lebanon followed voting in the Iraqi parliament on the security agreement with Washington closely and polls indicate its people either support or oppose the agreement depending on their political affiliation. A preponderance of Lebanese, however, do not have clear-cut positions regarding it.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lebanese Parliament Abdul Latif Al-Zain, who expressed his preference not to comment on the subject, simply said that “This matter is up to the Iraqi people and they have to decide their own fate.”

Meanwhile Lebanese Foreign Minister Fowzi Saloukh, a representative of the Shiite faction in President Fuad Al-Siniora’s government, said that, “If this agreement is in the interests of the Republic of Iraq and the Iraqi people, then so be it. Iraq must be free of foreign forces on its soil within a year or two. If nothing else, this agreement can be a first step for the future.”

The anti-Damascus March 14th Forces did not wish to adopt Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s premise that the security agreement between Iraq and the U.S. constitutes a threat to the security of Iraq’s neighbours. A spokesman said that, “The Iraqi parliament would not have ratified this agreement if it did not regard it as vital for the country’s stability until it is able to set up its own forces, achieve national reconciliation between all sides and put an end to terrorism.”

He went on to say that, “The agreement was passed by a large rather than a slim majority and this means that the representatives of the greater proportion of the Iraqi people agree on the importance of American forces remaining on Iraqi soil under the present circumstances to help it achieve sovereignty, security and stability.” The March 14th Forces hoped that Iraq would “regain its role in the Arab world and would not fall under Iran’s influence.”

On the other hand, the pro-Syrian March 8th Forces hold that “the American army must withdraw from Iraqi soil and hand over the reins of power to the Iraqi authorities without any conditions or restrictions.” Deputy Ali Kharis believes that “the U.S. wants to fulfil its own interests and not those of Iraq and its unity.”

An informal street poll asking a number of Lebanese, some of whom were unaware of the current developments, about their views on the events in Iraq yielded a variety of responses. One person said “we have enough going on in Lebanon;” another added that “the Iraqis who used to complain about Saddam Hussein’s regime must not forget that if it were not for American military intervention, they would not have succeeded in toppling Saddam.”

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