Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq held a rally in a sports stadium on Saturday to celebrate Iraq being free of US troops. He declared a national holiday, and thousands of Iraqis were surprised to receive a text message from him on their cell phones saying “All of us are for Iraq; the glory is to the people!” Who knew? Al-Maliki is the Ashton Kutcher of the Arab world! The prime minister claimed he would preserve political and religious pluralism, but he has thrown the country’s politics into turmoil because he accused a Sunni vice president of terrorist plotting. Members of the opposition party did not attend al-Maliki’s bash.
The Iranian foreign minister congratulated Iraq on its achievement in ridding itself of foreign troops.
But not everyone in Iraq is convinced that the US will leave Iraq alone. A Shiite preacher at a mosque in Diwaniya, a southern Shiite province, had this to say, according to the USG Open Source Center:
“In his second sermon, which addresses political issues, [Hasan] Al-Zamili congratulates the world, particularly “brother Christians” on the advent of the New Year. He adds that with each and every New Year, Iraqis’ hopes are dashed. Al-Zamili argues that the only things that a New Year brings are “the privileges, salaries, and allowances” granted to politicians in Iraq.
Elaborating further on this issue, Al-Zamili says: “We have received this New Year with problems and crises. This is the only year that comes when we are free of occupation. The occupiers are now gone, and the sons of the country are now in the driver’s seat. However, unfortunately, they have found nothing except for crises and the igniting of crises. All the new things that we see are crises and problems. Let the whole world know that the United States will not leave Iraq and Iraqi politicians to solve Iraq’s problems. It wants to send a message to the world saying that it was the party that brought things under control (in Iraq). If we were to know the facts, we would find that the United States was instrumental in creating Iraq’s current problems…” (From Buratha News)
Given that US allies in Iraq seem to be delirious with joy to have the US out of that country (the US was allied with these Shiite parties against Sunni hardliners), America is well out of Iraq. It is hard to see how staying longer would have convinced Sheikh Hasan.
As for the US, it should be celebrating not being at war anywhere in the Arab world for the first time since 2003. Happy New Year.