After six years, it looks like we’re finally seeing an end (or the beginning of an end) to the occupation of Iraq. US forces aren’t exactly leaving the country, but they’re pulling out of the cities, lowering their profile considerably, and turning over most authority to the Iraqi government.
The response from Iraqis is jubilant; today has been branded National Sovereignty Day. The Guardian has a few choice quotes:
Baghdad’s river-front parklands, which have been reclaimed this year after being deserted during the height of the insurgency and sectarian war, were last night transformed into outdoor dance venues, where audiences of around 3,000 – almost all of them men – danced to the strains of a recently returned Iraqi singer, Salah Hassan, exiled in Dubai for the past five years.
One reveller at an outdoor concert in Baghdad’s zoo, Tamader al-Waeli, 25, said: “It has been a long time since the last big celebration. We have now got rid of the occupiers and will not see them again on Iraqi streets. Baghdad needs the peace of its past life back again, we want to regain what we had, but at the same time the security forces now have extra duties and responsibilities and I hope they carry them out.
Another man at the concert, Ahmed Ebrahim, 35, said: “No words can describe how I feel. The occupation stayed in Iraqi hearts for six years and this is a big occasion that deserves to be a permanent national day in future. The occupiers put me in Bucca [an American-run prison in Iraq]. But now I am free and so is Iraq.”
Good luck, Iraq.
You’ve already heard everything I have to say about this war, but I’ll just reiterate that this was my primary reason to vote for Obama*, so my big payoff is today. The rest of his presidency is frosting.
* and if you think this withdrawal would have happened anyway, read the alternative.