Press TV reports:

A senior Shia cleric has issued a religious decree prohibiting Iraqis from signing a controversial security agreement with the US.

Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Kazem al-Husseini al-Haeri issued a fatwa (decree) against the US-proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

The cleric said that the agreement was in violation of the Islamic law, calling it a humiliating pact that would undermine Iraq’s sovereignty.

The US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen warned that Iraq risked security losses of ‘significant consequence’ unless it approved the deal, AFP reported.

The deal which would determine a legal framework for the presence of US forces in the country after their UN mandate expires in December 2008 would provide Washington with permanent military bases in Iraq.

The deal has so far met fierce opposition by a majority of lawmakers, whose approval is necessary for a final agreement.

The Iraqi cabinet and the Presidency Council must also approve the deal.

In a Tuesday cabinet meeting, Iraqi ministers refused to support the deal’s latest draft and called for amendments to the proposal.

The agreement is also opposed by the Iraqi people who have been staging rallies across the country to protest US military presence in the country.

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