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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Iraq is in Transition

On June 30, 2009, American troops pulled out of the cities after over six years' struggle to secure them. Iraq on June 30, 2009 was much safer than any June 30th in the past several years. The mood was largely festive as the Iraqi security forces taking sole responsibility for policing the cities decorated their posts and vehicles with flowers and balloons, but one tragic event reminded all that much remains to be resolved. A car bomb in the still contested city of Kirkuk underlined the issues yet to be resolved there and elsewhere as Iraqis take more and more responsibility in determining the trajectory of their transition.

BBC's pictures of Sovereignty Day.

In all, the death toll for Iraqis was higher in June than in recent months, owing largely to a number of car bombs probably meant to strike dread in the hearts of Iraqis as the Americans readied for their pullout.

More stories on the pullout: NYT, Gulf News, Asharq Alawsat, Reuters on the Kirkuk car bomb, Sydney Morning Herald on the same

Azzaman in Arabic - "Obama Warns of Difficult Days Ahead,""Sadr Calls His Supporters to Stop Attacks in the Cities"

Looking toward the elections, many inside and outside of Iraq see Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki positioning himself to become Iraq's new strongman. Some of the latest flavor: Time, UPI, CBS.

In other news, Marines in Afghanistan kicked off a massive ground and heliborne assault into the Helmand River Valley to clear Taliban and secure the local populace. See the Small Wars Journal Blog's roundup of news articles on the story. BBC reports officers on the ground as saying it is the Marines' largest assault (largest heliborne assault I would assume) since Vietnam.

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