The Ambassadors REVIEW
Iraq - The Central Battle Line
Samir S.M. Sumaida’ie
Ambassador of Iraq to the United States
n June 30, 2009, Iraq reached an important milestone in its recovery with
the withdrawal of American forces from Iraqi cities and towns. This first
crucial step was stipulated within the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA),
signed between the United States and Iraq last November, which outlines the future of
military engagement between the United States and Iraq together with the Strategic
Framework Agreement (SFA), which outlines non-military forms of engagement. The
transfer of security responsibility to Iraqi forces is an important step in normalizing
relations between the United States and Iraq and in restoring Iraqi sovereignty. It is part of
a process that began many months ago and will continue for many months—and even
years—to come. It is the process of stabilizing and reconstituting Iraq as a free and secure
country at peace with itself and the outside world.
With the help of the United States, Iraq’s security forces have made the substantial
progress that created the necessary conditions to make the withdrawal on June 30 possible.
In the last two years, Iraq has achieved remarkable improvements in its stability and
security. Just a couple of years ago, Iraq was on the verge of sectarian war. Today,
sectarian attacks are rare, and terrorism has been considerably reduced. The democratic
process has gained legitimacy, with all communities participating in it, and violence has
largely been discredited as an instrument of political change. Many of the terrorists,
insurgents, militias, and criminal gangs who once operated freely in some parts of the
country have found their activities increasingly curbed.
However, despite substantial improvement, dangers and threats still remain, as
demonstrated by a series of high profile/high casualty terrorist attacks in Baghdad, Diyala
and Mosul. These necessitate continued attention and help from the United States. The
vested interests of the United States and Iraq require both countries to ensure that Iraq
becomes a successful, independent nation. In the “new Iraq,” the United States still has an
important, albeit different, role to play.
The withdrawal of US troops is going according to plan. Under the SOFA all US