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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

One step forward?

by Lily Hamourtziadou

16 Nov 2008

The Iraqi cabinet has approved a security pact with the US concerning the near and the more distant future of US forces in Iraq. According to this agreement, US troops will withdraw from the streets of Iraqi towns next year, and will leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

The terms of this agreement include:

• placing US forces in Iraq under the authority of the Iraqi government
• US forces to leave the streets of Iraq's towns and villages by the middle of 2009
• US forces to hand over their bases to Iraq during the course of 2009
• US forces to lose the authority to raid Iraqi homes without an order from an Iraqi judge and permission of the government. (BBC 16 November 2008)

The agreement is currently being debated in the Iraqi parliament and will need to be ratified by Iraq’s presidential council before Prime Minister al-Maliki (a great supporter) can sign the deal with the US President.

‘A ray of hope’ according to the LA Times, ‘a light at the end of the Iraqi tunnel’ (LA Times 18 November 2008). It does seem like a step forward. As much as an agreement with an occupying force can be a step forward. As much as such a deal can be seen as having any validity. Or can be trusted.

Sadly, for every step forward achieved, a step is taken back with every innocent death, with every civilian that is shot, blown up, tortured. This week 133 civilians lost their lives in violence; 9 of them were children. US forces shot dead 3 men resisting arrest.

That’s many steps back.

At least 3 more years of American occupation then. A lot more people will die during those 3 years. It is doubtful Iraq will ever recover from this war, now that terror has come to its streets, now that its society has been divided so deeply. It is too soon to speak of ‘a light at the end of the tunnel,’ too soon to foresee a happy ending. Too many steps are yet to be taken back.