The U.S. military formally handed authority over Baghdad’s “Green Zone” to Iraqis on Thursday as new pacts governing the mission of international troops replaced a U.N. mandate.
Iraqi troops took over checkpoints around the heavily protected district, formally known as the International Zone, which houses Iraqi government offices and the U.S. Embassy.
While victory in Iraq has been evident for some time now, I think its safe to say that this will be the moment that history remembers as the successful end of the war. An end which will be remembered as a momentous victory for both the United States and the people of Iraq.
These quotes from both Iraqi and American officials crystalize the meaning of this achievement:
“This day is a great day in the history of the Iraqi people,” Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta said.
Maj. Gen. David Perkins, a U.S. military spokesman, noted the significance of turning over the former Republican Palace.
“The palace was handed back to the Iraqi people, significant as symbol of the head of the government and a sign for increased sovereignty,” he said at a news conference with Atta.
Perkins went on to describe exactly what this hand over means on the ground:
“We will continue to be there to provide some technical capacity, to provide some mentoring, but you will see less and less American forces and more and more Iraqi forces — and they will have the majority of the responsibility for making those key decisions which determine the security of the capital.”
Of course none of this would have ever been possible without the decision of President Bush to implement the surge and the brilliance of General David Petraeus in carrying it out.
Here’s to our soldiers, President Bush, the Iraqi people, and person of the year General David Petraeus.