After months of interruptions, the high court in Iraq finally certified the March election results thereby removing another barrier as the road to forming a government proceeds. The results stand with former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in the lead with 91 seats and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a close second garnering 89 seats. The political jockeying will begin in earnest. There’s talk of weeks and months until the Iraqi people see that day.
It’s in the interest of all parties to get moving sooner rather than later. Besides the fact that the certification could have been done weeks ago, had it not been for the delaying tactics of Maliki, the United States is preparing for a dramatic drawdown of some 42,000 U.S. Soldiers in less than three months. “We will stay on track to be at 50,000 by the end of August,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, earlier this week. On Wednesday, Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, presented a positive assessment of the current security conditions to President Obama. There’s no question that Iraq has improved. For example, in 2009, 149 U.S. Soldiers died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. That’s compared to only 31 in the first five months of 2010. In another sign of the waning American presence, Iraqi Security Forces have taken over control of the Green Zone in Baghdad. “The lights are going out” is how Capt. Eric Rudie, currently based north of Baghdad, put it in a recent New York Times op-ed. Sporadic attacks still occur but the days of sectarian violence are over.
The U.S. is now looking to the future and the “seating of the Iraqi government and the opportunity to strengthen the long-term strategic partnership” between the two countries, Gen. Odierno said. Maj. Gary J. Morea, currently on his third tour in Iraq, also sees promise as Operation Iraqi Freedom changes to Operation New Dawn on Sept. 1, 2010. “It is Spring-time in Baghdad—a generation is awakening from a cold and bitter dream,” he said. “Hope looms on the horizon and friendship is emerging from the trust that has been cultivated through over five years of partnership. But in the end, it is the peace and happiness worn on the faces of the citizenry that is the fruit of all of our efforts and sacrifice.” Our military’s success can’t be put any better than that.
Scott Sadler is an experienced communicator with an in-depth expertise with crisis communications who has served in senior level positions in the federal government, Capitol Hill, and in a military theater of operation.