Iraq Will Take Control of 2 More Provinces in Coming Days
Updated and Bumped—
** Mudville Gazette, via Instapundit, reported this morning that the U.S. military will transfer control of security in Iraq’s Anbar province to Iraqi forces on Saturday.
Qadisiya (Diwaniya) Province is scheduled to be transferred to the Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC).
Iraqi officials will take over security responsibility of two more provinces.
Already, the Iraqi democracy is in charge of 9 of its 18 provinces.
The Democratic government of Iraq will take over responsibility of Anbar, a province once reported as lost, and Qadisiya (Diwaniya) Province in the coming weeks.
Gulf 2000 Map
Click to Enlarge
Qadisiya Province will be the next province to be turned over to the Iraqi government.
Iraq will take over security responsibility for another southern province from U.S. forces in July, a Defence Ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
U.S. and British forces, which invaded Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003, have been gradually transferring more security responsibilities to Iraq’s security forces.
Qadisiya, also known as Diwaniya because that is the name of its capital, would be the 10th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to return to Iraqi control.
It has been relatively violence-free this year.
“In July, we will take security responsibility for Diwaniya (Qadisiya) province from the Multi-National Forces and we have prepared the required force to take this security responsibility,” Major-General Mohammed al-Askari, the Defence Ministry spokesman, told a news conference.
A U.S. military spokesman declined comment.
The ninth province to return to Iraqi control was the oil- rich southern province of Basra, which Britain handed over last December, marking the end of nearly five years of British control of southern Iraq.
So far the provinces under Iraqi control are either in the Kurdish north or the Shi’ite south.
U.S. forces still control provinces with large Sunni Arab populations, such as the western province of Anbar, which used to be the main stronghold of al Qaeda insurgents.
The handover of Anbar to Iraqi control, once pencilled in for March or April, is now expected in the next few weeks.
Currently, 9 of 18 Iraqi Provinces are under Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC).
Anbar and Qadisiyah Provinces are scheduled to transition to PIC in the coming days.
Before the successful Bush surge in early 2007, Anbar Province was written off as a lost cause by the naysayers.
Just a 18 months later the province is ready to join the Iraqi democracy.
The signatures of more than two million Iraqi Shi’ites, demanding that Iran cease its interference in Iraq, were presented on Saturday during a convention in Ashraf.
Representatives of more than 135 parties and organizations, as well as 1,000 tribal elders from Iraq’s southern and central regions, attended the conference, titled “Solidarity with the Iraqi People.” Also attending the event were representatives from the Iranian opposition group, Mujahidin Khalq.
“We have gathered over two million signatures from Iraqi Shi’ites, calling on Iran to pull its hands off Iraq and especially the southern districts,” said leader of the Al-Humeidat tribe, Sheikh Ka’sid Najm during the conference.