The Iraqi security of the Green Zone
The transfer of the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad to Iraqi responsibility is an essential milestone in the measurement of security improvements, the daily newspaper Addustour said Monday.
Handing over responsibility of the Green Zone is a sign of political progress and indicative of the strength and renewed sovereignty of the government in Baghdad.
But the transfer does not suggest the Iraqi government is competent beyond the walls of the Green Zone, which houses most of the state ministries. The Green Zone, since 2003, has split the capital, Baghdad, in two and emerged as a symbol of the inability of the government to bring dignity to the Iraqi people.
Being in charge of the Green Zone will benefit the Iraqi people first, as they were the ones who paid for what it represents. Controlling the Green Zone will reopen the streets of Baghdad and return the capital to its past glory. This, the newspaper said, would give the Iraqi people a real sense of stability and security.
Reconciliation and Iraq's crisis
Iraqi lawmakers are wrong to think that forcing the government to respond to their demands will bring any substantial achievement or change the political situation, Azzaman said Monday.
The political process in Iraq has reached a point where powerful lawmakers and their militias are unable to progress any further. These lawmakers are asking the government to reach out to opposition parties in order to bring about much needed change.
But closer examination of the political situation shows each party is trying to diminish the other in an attempt to convince the public of their proficiency. These lawmakers claim they can reform the Iraqi constitution for the better, but are ignorant of the fact that elimination of sectarian and ethnic militias, many backed by political parties, is a pre-condition for security and stability.
Achieving these goals requires a strong and professional government, not more division. Some lawmakers are exploiting the situation by attempting to reconcile with opposition parties, which should be discouraged for the sake of national unity.
The Iraqi government, for its part, must not meet the demands of these lawmakers because it would weaken the central authority, a move that would have dire consequences for the Iraqi people.
Al-Maliki and "full" sovereignty
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki praised the Iraqi people as U.S. officials handed over the keys to the Republican Palace in the Green Zone, but it was no indication of sovereignty, Sot al-Iraq said Monday.
Iraq and the United States agreed on a bilateral pact, the Status of Forces Agreement, that allows American troops to stay in the country through 2011. U.S. forces, however, still control Iraq's sovereignty, leaving the government in Baghdad unable to act without such formal agreements.
The Iraqi Defense and Interior Ministries, for instance, have the Iraqi flag raised on top of their offices, but that proves very little because the real rulers of Iraq are the Americans, the newspaper said.
Maliki's talk of sovereignty may have to wait until after U.S. forces leave in 2011; that is unless they are greedy and decide to prolong their stay.
(Edited by Daniel Graeber)