NR: "Al Qaeda and its allies are trying to bomb Iraq back into the sectarian civil war."
June 29, 2009
Just a few moments after speaking with Hala, Ali Velshi talks with Michael about the drawdown as well as with Atia Abawi about the troops heading to Afghanistan.
ALI VELSHI: In a little more than an hour, day one arrives in Iraq. That means day one for the Iraqi military, the day they will be in charge of their major cities -- Mosul, Fallujah, Kirkuk, Najaf, and Baghdad.
U.S. military forces officially hand over security to Iraqi police and armed forces, a major milestone, the first of many now between the president -- when President Obama promises all U.S. forces will be out of Iraq.
Let's go to Baghdad and CNN's Michael Ware. But also this hour, discussion for Atia Abawi. Why? Because she is in Afghanistan, where numbers of U.S. forces are about to go up rather dramatically.
Let's talk about the two wars, one of which is being called forgotten.
Michael, first to you, tell us how the Iraqi people are viewing this pullout day.
MICHAEL WARE, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Oh, I can tell you that very easily, Ali. They are jubilant. There are celebrations around us as we speak. I can hear music.
State TV is cutting from one city to the next to the next showing the celebrations. I've just come, several hours ago now, from a celebration in a central park here in Baghdad. Hundreds of families picnicking as the sun went down, singing, dancing. There was a concert about to begin. Government officials were showing up.
State TV has fonted its screen the last few days, counting down the days. Right now, as I stand here, it's counting down the hours. We're about 70-odd minutes away from the official end of the U.S.-led war here in Iraq. Now, let's not make any mistakes here. This isn't going to necessarily be pretty. But the Iraqis, of all people, know that. For the last seven years, it's their blood that has spilled more than any others, and that's not taking away any respect from the 4,300-odd American soldiers.
They know that the bombings will continue, but they want to be Iraqi -- they want the occupation, as they see it, to end.
VELSHI: Let's go over to Atia in Afghanistan, talk about boosting U.S. troop numbers there. Atia, talk about this concept of the Afghanistan war having fallen off the American public's radar. Now it looks like it's back on, and people are worried about Iraq.
ATIA ABAWI, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Exactly, Ali. This is everything that Afghanistan has been waiting for. The people of Afghanistan wanted this attention to come back to their country.
Some agree with the troop increase, some don't. The soldiers here that we spoke to yesterday, we went out on patrol with soldiers who have been to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who are new to Afghanistan tell us that they say it's about time that they're focusing on Afghanistan.
They're happy to be here right now because they say it's been seven, almost eight years now, and more needs to be done in the war on terror in Afghanistan. They say that they're here to bring an end to this war as well -- Ali?
VELSHI: Michael, final word to you, about 30 seconds. Is there some fear, is there a faction of Iraqis who are fearful about this, that the Americans move out and it will degenerate again?
WARE: Well, yes. I mean, look, there will be ongoing violence, absolutely no question. The bombings are going to continue. Al Qaeda and its allies are trying to bomb Iraq back into the sectarian civil war.
And there are people who are worried not so much about that. Everyone's united in wanting to see that end. What they're worried about is that it's been the presence of the American troops that's kept the warring factions within the government and beyond apart.
We're going to have to wait and see after next year's election around January to see what the losers do. And that's when American troops will really be thinning out -- Ali?
VELSHI: All right, we'll keep a close eye on this, as Michael says, just hours away. Atia, of course, we're going to be paying very close attention to the development in Afghanistan now and how that troop deployment works. Thank you to both of you.