Iraq is now “sovereign and independent,” according to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who made this optimistic pronouncement on Tuesday, the official end day of the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from his war-ravaged country.

However, this newly declared status comes with quite a few strings — such as tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel who will remain in Iraq for an unknown period, not to mention a far less than stable government structure and continuing insurgent violence. Other than that, sure, “sovereign and independent” all the way.


The end to US combat operation comes despite continuing violence and instability in Iraq.

The country’s political leaders have so far failed to form a government after elections in March produced no conclusive winner.

In his televised address, Mr Maliki told Iraqis: “Iraq today is sovereign and independent.

“Our security forces will take the lead in ensuring security and safeguarding the country and removing all threats that the country has to weather, internally or externally.”

He assured Iraqis that the security forces were “capable and qualified to shoulder the responsibility”.

Violence in Iraq is down from the peak seen during the sectarian conflict in 2006-2007, although the number of civilian deaths rose sharply in July.

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