As I was listing to NPR this morning I was surprised to hear that Iraq's PM Allawi had been given the reigns of Iraq a couple of days before the original Jun 30th deadline. Well, this is great news that they finally have formal control of the country and that the handover occurred without a huge wave of more violence. I can only smirk at the sort of PR the Bush admin gets out of this, but I won't really comment on that since I don't want to be too cynical about this event. I'm sure the memo from Condi to Bush will be featured prominently in the re-election campaign and in W's presidential library. But that's his right.
In any case, I've read a couple of good articles in The Economist regarding the challenges which PM Allawi faces now that he's running the country. If you have subscription access to it, here's a rather detailed article and here's another shorter free article which summarizes based on today's news.
The good thing about these articles is that they aren't too cynical or unduly-optimistic about what needs to happen in Iraq. As usual, The Economist points out the facts and leaves you with an "oookaayyy, so then?" feeling. You can decide if that's a good or bad thing :)
The basics of these articles: Most Iraqis believe they can cope without too much help from coalition forces. However, Allawi has a lot of work to do around security and proving to Iraqis that they indeed live in a better place than before with Saddam in power. Allawi has very little in the way of resources to enable this security so he'll be relying on American bankrolling to be successful. Coalition forces have operational control, however Allawi directs the overall military strategy. Not sure how that will play out or what it means to Allawi if he doesn't have operational control. Also, Western Contractors have a lot of say in the way Iraq unfolds since they are being paid to secure strategic sites and maintain oil pipelines, etc. Additionally, these folks are not subject to Iraqi law. None of this is really new. I think we've all known that a lot of work has to be done in Iraq, but these articles definitely help provide some more detail into just what has to happen and some of the hurdles in the way of accomplishing those things.
So take it how you want it. There's much to be cynical about, but there's also much to be hopeful about. This doesn't change my opinion about where W should be headed after November 9th, but that's a whole other story.