On Monday, all parties to the three-day meeting called by the Cairo-based Arab League agreed to the formula: "Resistance is a legitimate right of all peoples", said Mizhir al-Dulaimi, a Sunni Muslim from the west of Iraq.

Shaikh Imad Muhammad Ali, an official of the Sunni Muslim Iraqi People's Gathering, confirmed the agreement.

The Iraqi government, which depends on US military support, has opposed any language that could be interpreted as support for armed groups that are opposed to the US presence in Iraq and have been fighting to drive US-led troops out of the country.

Sunni Muslims opposed to the government have argued that US occupation is the root cause of the violence in Iraq and US troops should leave as soon as possible.

In the debate in Cairo, Iraqi government representatives conceded a theoretical right to resist occupation, but said that as elected representatives of the people, the government had decided to end foreign occupation gradually, as Iraq builds its own security forces to replace the foreign troops.

 

Timetable

In an Aljazeera talk show recorded in Cairo on Monday, Hadi al-Amiri, chairman of the Badr Brigades, said the US withdrawal timetable depended on the security situation in Iraq.
The Badr Brigades is the Iran-backed military wing of the Shia Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

 

 Jabr criticised attacks against
foreign forces in Iraq

"The conferees in Cairo were notified that, before asking for a US withdrawal timetable, there should be a timetable for building strong Iraqi armed forces," he said.

 

"When this timetable is achieved and implemented successfully, and Iraqi forces can tackle the security situation in Iraq properly, Iraqis can ask for a US withdrawal timetable."

 

Interior minister

Iraqi troops will be ready to take charge of security in the country by the end of next year, so this month's UN Security Council extension of the mandate for US-led forces in Iraq could be the last, the Interior Minister and senior SCIRI member, Bayan Jabr, said on Monday.

Speaking on Aljazeera, Jabr criticised attacks against foreign forces in Iraq, saying: "What is happening in Iraq has nothing to do with resistance but it is terrorism. They try to target an American tank and it [a bomb] could hit the target once but misses dozens of times and explodes in the middle of our people."

He said foreign troops should stay in Iraq until the country's security forces were trained and ready.

"By mid-next year, we will be 75% done in building our forces, and by the end of next year, it will be fully ready."

Mandate

This month, the Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the nearly 180,000-strong US-led force in Iraq for a year, a decision the United States called a sign of the international commitment to Iraq's political transition.

"In my opinion, this is the last extension for coalition forces, then Iraq security forces will be in charge within Iraq," Jabr said.


He called fighters to join security forces to bring the withdrawal closer.

"I am asking you to tell them to join. I want to recruit 1200 members and I ask some of those who call themselves resistance fighters to come and join us in the National Unity battalion that includes, Kurds, Shabak, Yazidis, Shias and Sunnis and Turkmen," he said, referring to the country's different ethnic and religious groups.