Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Iraqis celebrate US withdrawal from cities

It was a day of parades and celebrations in Baghdad, as US forces withdrew from Iraqi cities, but they will remain nearby to support Iraq's security forces.

“The Iraqi people are rightly treating this day as cause for celebration," President Obama said.

Maliki is hailing the US withdrawal as a victory and declared today a national holiday, but I think Maliki and Obama realize that the US will stay in Iraq for years to come.

As Americans withdrew from the cities and Iraqis celebrated, a bombing in Kirkuk has killed dozens of Iraqis. Yesterday 4 US soldiers and 11 Iraqis were killed. Around 350* Iraqis have been killed this month and many more wounded in bombings.

I heard a reporter on BBC World Service today remark on how resilient the Iraqi people have been in the face of these bombings, and wondered how many bombings the Iraqis will withstand before militias launch revenge attacks. The Iraqi Shia withstood two years of bombings before militias began rounding up ordinary Sunni Arab men and killing them. I hope the Iraqis do not allow their enemies to ignite another sectarian war.

Also today Nibras Kazimi reports from Baghdad on his interview with Aljazeera Satellite Channel, who managed to get a representative of the 'Islamic Army in Iraq' on the line. "Anyway, I thought it was funny that I was openly speaking from Baghdad, from Abu Nawwas Street, while the mouth organs for the 'resistance' were in exile or in hiding," Nibras writes.

*Update: 437 Iraqis were killed in June, the highest monthly civilian death toll since July, 2008.

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