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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Iraqi people taking back their country

August 1, 2004
Just four weeks after regaining national sovereignty, ordinary Iraqis are reasserting their identity and autonomy faster than the U.S. ever envisioned. Bit by bit, Iraq is again beginning to think of itself as a nation. ...

This was not expected so soon. With a short handshake-ceremony on June 28, held in secret and two days early to foil insurgents, the U.S. and its allies ended 14 months of occupation by delivering sovereignty to a carefully selected interim government. Getting Iraq back into the hands of Iraqis was a major political goal for the Bush administration, but the White House was also intent on avoiding an embarrassing failure by the new Iraqi government. ...

Cruise Baghdad's streets and you are as likely to see as many Iraqi troops in crisp new fatigues manning checkpoints as you will see Americans in sweaty old fatigues mentoring them nearby. Iraqi police are also gaining greater authority, after months of playing second fiddle to U.S. troops. The U.S. is busy retraining police officers, but nearly 70 percent have yet to receive any new instruction and they ply the streets with the apparent abandon and impunity familiar in other Arab countries.

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