This is one of the strongest statements of Sistani to date and it concentrates not only on the contrctor killings but also recent military killings of civilians. There will be more pressure for Iraq to be given the power to deal with contractor crimes. Of course there will be complete stonewalling on having US military subject to Iraqi law, that would be going way too far. In fact it remains to be seen if the US will recognise a right of the Iraqis to deal with contractors. One solution might be to make them temporary employees of the military.
Top Shiite cleric hits out at Iraq security contractors
1 day ago
KARBALA, Iraq (AFP) — Iraq's Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani lashed out at foreign security contractors on Friday accusing them of "belittling" Iraqis.
Sistani is demanding that the government pass legislation "that stops the shedding of Iraqi blood," his spokesman Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai said in the central shrine city of Karbala.
"The foreign security companies working in Iraq belittle innocent Iraqi citizens," a statement from Karbalai said.
"The occupying forces do the same in some of their operations, adding to the criminal acts of the takfiris (Sunni militants)."
The hard-hitting statement came after foreign security contractors Blackwater USA and Australian-managed Unity Resources Group were involved in separate shooting incidents in Baghdad in the past month in which, according to an Iraqi government toll, 19 civilians were killed.
It was issued shortly after the US military announced that 15 women and children were killed in an operation in the Lake Tharthar region northwest of Baghdad on Thursday.
"In a short span of time, security companies kill without reason many citizens while the occupying forces attack Iraqi towns and cities, especially Jayzani, near Khalis," Karbalai's statement said.
On October 5, a double US air strike on the village of Jayzani al-Imam, 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of the capital, killed 25 people that American commanders said were Iranian-linked militants but which Iraqi authorities said included women and children.
Thursday's killings of civilians by US forces was also condemned by Sheikh Bashar al-Fayadh, spokesman for the influential Muslim Scholars' Association, one of Iraq's main Sunni clerics' organisations.
"Iraqis should unanimously call for the departure of the occupation," Fayadh said in a statement. "We have enough bloodletting of Iraqis."
He also urged action by the world community.
"Where are the human rights organisations? Score and sometimes hundreds of Iraqis are slaughtered every day and no one takes any action."