Today in Iraq, we officially turned over security responsibility for Muthanna Province to the Iraqi government. Here’s the CENTCOM press release that landed in my inbox:
July 13, 2006
BAGHDAD � Iraq witnessed a historic event today with the transfer of security responsibility in Muthanna Province from the Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) to the Provincial Governor and civilian-controlled Iraqi Security Forces. The handover represents a milestone in the successful development of Iraq�s capability to govern and protect itself as a sovereign and democratic nation. Muthanna is the first of Iraq�s 18 provinces to be designated for such a transition.
As Prime Minister Maliki announced on June 19, 2006, the joint decision between the Iraqi government and MNF-I to hand over security responsibility is the result of Muthanna�s demonstrated abilities to take the lead in managing its own security and governance duties at the provincial level. The transition decision also reflects a joint assessment of the overall threat situation in Muthanna, the capabilities of the ISF there and the provincial leadership�s ability to coordinate security. Transition teams are in place to smooth the transfer process and multi-national forces will stand ready to provide assistance if needed.
With this first transition of security responsibility, Muthanna demonstrates the progress Iraq is making toward self-governance. Several other provinces are close to meeting the criteria necessary to assume security independence. The Iraqi government and the Multi-National Force will continue to transfer security responsibilities in other provinces in Iraq as conditions are achieved.
Australian, Japanese, and the United Kingdom forces have assisted Muthanna authorities as models of international cooperation, providing economic and humanitarian assistance as well as security and stability. As Iraq develops and its needs continue to evolve, so too will the nature of international assistance to Iraq in Muthanna and elsewhere.
The United States will provide $10 million in order to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Muthanna as they take a bold and courageous step forward in the country�s movement toward an independent and secure nation. This event represents significant progress by the Government of Iraq to achieve a constitutional, democratic, and pluralistic Iraq which guarantees the rights of all citizens.
One province down, 17 to go. This is progress!