Voluntarily as a part of the agreement signed last year by the Bush administration.
I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned Iraq at all for months. That in itself is quite amazing.
In 2006 most people were waiting for the Iraqi version of the last helicopter leaving the US embassy in Saigon. Now, we’re turning over the vast majority of the security work in Iraq to the Iraqis as the people of Iraq celebrate the handover.
Trust me – no one is anymore pleased to be heading out of the cities than US troops. And for the opponents of the war, it’s pretty hard to deny the success that has been built on the surge and the change in strategy implemented by the Bush administration.
In fact, Obama really hasn’t had to do a thing except accept the plan that administration left in place and execute it.
There’s always a “but”. But that doesn’t at all means everything is smooth sailing and unicorns and rainbows are now in Iraq’s future. Instead it means that for the most part, the Iraqi state is functional and at least minimally able to take care of its own security. It also will probably mean, in the absence of US military might, that some of the old players will again try their hand at fomenting violence in a bid to reestablish their agendas for Iraq.
This still remains a red letter day for Iraq, however. And it also is a red letter day for the region. The question is will they continue to make progress or will we see sectarianism and the violence that usually accompanies it reemerges as US troops withdraw.
There are going to be horrific acts of violence in Iraq for a while. That is just the nature of the beast as the last of the dead-enders do their thing. What we have to hope for is the progress to this date continues, Iraqis think of themselves as Iraqis first (and whatever religious sect or ethnic group second) and work toward a stable and democratic Iraq.
Everyone I’ve talked too who’ve been there since the surge, to include Michael Yon, are very encouraged by what they’ve seen and experienced.
Best of luck to the Iraqi people – it is pretty much now theirs to make or break. We’ll soon see how badly they want what they have.