BAGHDAD — As the Iraqi cabinet prepares to vote on a security agreement for American troops, the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr called Friday for armed resistance against any agreement that allowed a continued United States presence in Iraq.
“I repeat my demand to the occupier to leave our land without keeping bases or signing agreements,” Mr. Sadr said in a statement read to thousands of supporters at Friday Prayer. “If they keep bases, then I would support honorable resistance.”
Tension is rising here over the agreement as the vote nears, even if few oppose it to the extremes of Mr. Sadr and his followers. An aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq, also indicated that he would intervene in some way if the draft did not enjoy the full support of the Iraqi people. But Ayatollah Sistani, who far outranks Mr. Sadr, has consistently advocated nonviolence.