Thursday, January 01, 2009

More On the Green Zone Turnover

Heart of U.S. occupation reverts to Iraqi control

"The Iraqi flag was raised during a small ceremony at what had been the Republican Palace of Saddam Hussein attended by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

In a speech broadcast on state television, Maliki said that the handover had a special meaning for Iraqis. "It means we have gotten rid of the most dangerous remains of the policies that the former regime adopted," he said."


"No real estate transfer is as significant as that involving the Republican Palace, Saddam Hussein's lavish showpiece, captured and occupied in April 2003 by American troops. It was home to the Coalition Provisional Authority and, later, the American Embassy.

The American diplomats have moved into the enormous yet austere new embassy nearby, but the decision on who gets the valuable palace is still under discussion. It will probably be Maliki, said several Iraqi officials. Or President Jalal Talabani, said several others. Or both.

Neither occupant — one a Shiite, the other a Kurd, both involved in armed resistance against the Saddam government — would be an agreeable sight for the man depicted on the huge portrait in relief that still remains, covered by a tarp, in the lobby of the palace."


"The impersonal efficiency of the American checkpoints, which has angered countless Iraqis, is, in Shahrazurri's view, the chief reason that security has been so well maintained.

"The American forces only deal with badges," he said. "They have no friends. The Iraqis have friends."

Iraqis in the zone tend to view Americans more positively than their counterparts who live or work outside it, but many have kept their association a secret for years, as a matter of survival. In interviews, they expressed a deep fear that the transfer of the Green Zone would leave them in danger.

Some families are so terrified they are considering moving elsewhere, said Adeer Kadim, 20, a taxi driver who has lived in the zone since 2003. Others say they are worried that they will be forced out.

But the Iraqi government has been pushing for this day, and it seems natural that a security agreement that gives Iraq control of its radio frequencies and airspace would also include the seat of its government."


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