The situation continues to develop for Post-30JUN09 Security Operations. The Iraqi Security Forces continue to stand up and take greater responsibility for the security situation throughout Diyala Province and Iraq. Many expected a significant uptick in violence in the aftermath of the CF withdrawal from the cities (though the partnership with the ISF continues), but while there have been a number of spectacular (an unfortunate word choice for a mass casualty SVEST, VBIED, SVBIED attack), the security situation remains largely stable. That is a tribute to the Iraqi Security Forces. A year ago, or even six months ago, such a development would have been unthinkable, but such is the movement of progress.
Challenges still remain, that is undeniable and Iraq is not over (it won't be over as long as US Forces are in the country supporting the Government of Iraq). But the GOI and ISF are unquestionably in the lead and our primary mission is one of support for those two elements vital to a secure and stable Iraq. President Bush said a long time ago about Iraq that as the Iraqis step up, we will step down. It has perhaps taken longer than we expected, and certainly then we would have liked, but the Iraqis are stepping up. In many cases they are still eager to work with and learn from us and we are eager to impart what we can to them. It is a positive movement in the relationship that it is far more equal then it has ever been. Iraq is a Sovereign Country and we are supporting them in their fight against both internal and external threats.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will soon be visiting the United States. In the Iraqi Press he has been trumpeting the post-30JUN "Out of the Cities" as a victory, which he should, but he has hurt some feelings with his purposeful lack of attention to American sacrifices. Part of that anger toward him is understandable, but he is a Politician. Politicians ALWAYS say certain things to certain constituencies, it's a fact of life. While the average Iraqi is grateful for what CF have done in removing Saddam, they are also more than ready for Iraq to stand on its own two feet and that requires Maliki to say what he says. However, to the US audience, he will be providing a different message: "We have [achieved] a combined victory against terrorism, and there have been sacrifices from both sides that brought fruitful results and democracy to Iraq". He couldn't be more right. T.E. Lawrence warned his British supporters that "It is better that the Arab do things tolerably, than we do it perfectly". It is better that the Iraqis lead in security and express their independence now that they are capable of it, then those responsibilities falling upon us.
Course, the more the Iraqis lead, the less we do (which can be frustrating), but it is progress. In many ways it is what the Long War against Terrorism will look like.