LDT: "America is still underwriting the stability."
June 30, 2009
Michael talks to Kitty Pilgrim about the events of the day and how the American forces view them.
KITTY PILGRIM: U.S. officials have been warning that this transition period is going to be violent. In fact, in the past 10 days, hundreds of people have died in attacks in Iraq. And there was more violence today. A car bomb in the northern city of Kirkuk killed dozens of people. It exploded in an outdoor market hours after four U.S. troops were killed in Baghdad.
Well joining us now from Baghdad, CNN -- is Michael Ware, who has been covering the war in Iraq for seven years. Michael, the U.S. forces will now be outside the cities. Are the Iraqi forces ready to do the job?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kitty, the simple answer is no. The more complicated answer of course is yes. In a vacuum, the Iraqi security forces would not be able to take on the fight that they're facing alone. That's why 130,000 U.S. combat troops will remain in Iraq, albeit in their bases outside of the major cities and the towns.
As General Ray Odierno, the U.S. commander here on the ground, puts it they're here to provide support. America is in the back seat now because the Iraq -- this is now the Iraqi war, as you know. But the Americans are here to provide what the general calls enablers, trainers, advisers, air support, heavy firepower, so America is still underwriting the stability even though it's no longer in charge -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Nevertheless, Michael, you must be hearing some assessment from the U.S. forces. What are you hearing?
WARE: Look, this is a -- this is a mixed bag here, Kitty. I mean this has been an emotional time in many ways for a lot of us. Obviously, the Iraqis are seeing it is a day of celebration. This is a national holiday. They're celebrating the return of their sovereignty, the end of what they see as an occupation.
But I can tell you this, some people that I have been speaking to within the U.S. mission do feel aggrieved that such scenes of celebration, the declaration of a national holiday, state TV having a virtual countdown clock fonted on their screens, belies the sacrifice that Americans have made here. I mean, in the last hours of the American-led phase of the conflict, another four soldiers laid down their lives.
In total, 4,323 American servicemen and servicewomen died here on Iraqi soil. Some don't feel that that is a moment for celebration. And I would like to think that today all Americans would stop and collectively take a moment to contemplate the sacrifice that's been given -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Well you're absolutely right, Michael, and they will never be forgotten by us. Thank you very much, Michael Ware.
WARE: Thanks, Kitty.