Thursday, January 01, 2009

US Hands Over Control of Green Zone to Iraq

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A great day and one that was never imagined a year and a half ago:

BAGHDAD (AP) — The United States handed over control of the Green Zone and Saddam Hussein's presidential palace to Iraqi authorities on Thursday in a ceremonial move described by the country's prime minister as a restoration of Iraq's sovereignty.

At a ceremony marking the transition, Nouri al-Maliki said he will propose Jan. 1 be declared a national holiday to commemorate what he called "Sovereignty Day" — the day Iraq took the lead in security away from U.S. forces, regained control of its airspace and reclaimed a wide swath of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

The area that became known as the Green Zone on the west bank of the Tigris River was occupied by the United States shortly after the 2003 U.S. invasion and walled off from the rest of the city.

Until Wednesday, Saddam's former palace formally served as the U.S. Embassy and headquarters of the U.S military in Iraq. Thursday's palace handover was mostly ceremonial, as most U.S. diplomats and military officials long since moved to a new embassy building on the other side of the Green Zone, which is also known as the International Zone.
A great day indeed. Thanks to the men and women of our military, Iraq is becoming quite stable and is only the second democracy in the entire Mideast and one that may spur further democratic movement in Lebanon, Jordan and perhaps even Egypt.

This move is symbolic but most from this point will be until we leave. We've trained the Iraqi's to defend themselves and police their own nation and they've moved quickly toward that goal.

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