Iraqis stage demonstration after Gates ‘US military to stay for years’ remarkApril 10th, 2011 - 1:18 pm ICT by ANI
Baghdad, Apr 10 (ANI): Thousands of Iraqis staged protest demanding an end to the American military presence in their country, a day after US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested that American troops could remain there for years.
The protests were scheduled to be held before Gates made his comments on Friday during a visit to troops in northern Iraq, but it might have fuelled the anger further, The New York Times reports.
Moktada al-Sadr, the radical anti-American Shiite cleric, backed the protesters by sending a message to the crowd from Iran, where he is continuing with his religious studies, threatening to reconstitute his militia, the Mahdi Army, if the American military did not leave this year.
“The first thing we will do is escalate the military resistance activity and reactivate the Mahdi Army in a new statement which will be published later. Second is to escalate the peaceful and public resistance through sit-ins,” Sadr’s representative, Salah al-Obaidi, told the crowd.
A demonstration against the American invasion is held each April 9, the anniversary of the fall of Baghdad in 2003 and the date when Iraqis, with the help of American Marines, pulled down a statue of the dictator Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square in Baghdad.
Protestors raised firm voice against the American military saying they should leave by the end of this year.
Sheik Ahmed al-Hasnawi, one of the event’s organizers, said: “We want them to get out of the country. It’s the last year for them,” while another protestor said: “We came from southern Iraq yesterday evening at the invitation of Moktada al-Sadr. We will expel the occupier.”
On Friday after prayers, demonstrators in Adhamiya, a Sunni stronghold in Baghdad, chanted, “Leave, leave, occupier!” And a few hundred people demonstrated Saturday against the Americans in Ramadi, in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province. (ANI)
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