They're Celebrating in Iraq

Because we're leaving (sorta):
Iraq declared a public holiday Tuesday to celebrate the official withdrawal of American troops from the country's cities and towns, emptying the streets as many people stayed home because they feared violence.

As Iraqi officials' celebrations went on, the American military announced the death of four soldiers on Monday from combat operations in Baghdad, a reminder of the continuing vulnerability of soldiers as they wrap up operations in the field.

In the past few weeks, nationalist sentiments have spread within the Iraqi government and military, with officials all but boasting that Iraq is ready to handle the security situation on its own.
Even though they had to tell everyone to stay home today because they fear violence they can't control. Sigh. What a mess we've made there.
Many ordinary Iraqis said that a day they long doubted would come seemed to have arrived. Although some worried that the security forces may not be able to control the insurgency, they were also relieved to have the Americans out of sight. Some said they believed that the American presence had given insurgents a pretext to stage attacks.

The American presence here is associated with better security in some places, but it is despised in others for detention techniques that are sometimes heavy-handed, for creating traffic jams and for generally reminding Iraqis that they are not in control.

"It really is a sovereignty day," said Balqis Eidan, a 30-year-old state employee. "I agreed with [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki]. It is a very important day in our history. But we are still worried about security. We hope that our forces will be able to handle security. The way will be a long one."
Maude help them.

American troops are withdrawing cautiously, with soldiers ordered "to remain in garrison for the next few days to give the Iraqis a chance to demonstrate that they are in control," and the Iraqi government has requested that "a handful of urban outposts in Baghdad...remain open" indefinitely. But the "vast majority" of American troops have already shuttered their urban bases and relocated to "large forward operating bases."

Undoubtedly, if the insurgency surges again, American troops will be asked to step back in, but, for the moment, Iraq is being given at long last an opportunity to test its fledgling security forces. And Maliki is issuing a little preemptive blame if the insurgency should surge and overwhelm them:
Mr. Maliki said the news media would encourage insurgent attacks if they questioned the ability of the security forces to handle the job. The Iraqi government has periodically tried to muzzle news organizations perceived as supporting insurgents.While only a couple of outlets have been prevented from covering the country, the message has been clear.
Looks like Bush was successful in spreading his brand of democracy to Iraq. Awesome.

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