Iraqis celebrate country's liberation amid political and security successes

Iraqi forces have taken over responsibility for many bases previously run by US forces. [Saba al-Bazee /Reuters]

Iraqi forces have taken over responsibility for many bases previously run by US forces. [Saba al-Bazee /Reuters]

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When Iraqis mark the liberation of their country on April 9th, they will celebrate amid major security and political achievements that citizens and security officials say represent a turning point in Iraq's history.

"Today, we are celebrating this occasion in a year that is different from the previous year," said Maj. Gen. Jassim al-Shuali of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. "This year saw the killing of some of al-Qaeda's leading figures and the destruction of their training camps, as well as the seizure of weapons and explosives."

This year's celebration comes at a time when Iraq is witnessing noticeable security improvements.

"Many cities, residential neighborhoods, and streets have been secured, cement blocs have been removed, and military manifestations in streets have been reduced," he told Mawtani. "We feel all of this every day."

Al-Shuali said Iraqi security forces have also made important improvements.

"Iraqi forces are now prepared and trained to take out any security threat within a short period of time, unlike last year and previous years when they needed the support of US army," he said. "Today we can say that Iraqi forces have become ready to take responsibility for the security file, and there is no fear or worry about the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq."

In the last few years, US forces handed over a number of important military bases to the Iraqi government, including Imam Ali Air Base in Nasiriyah, al-Shirqat Joint Cooperation Base and Mamoun Palace Base in Salah al-Din, Scania Base in Babil, and the military compound in Abu Ghraib in Baghdad province.

"This year is different than the previous year because Iraqis are remembering April 9th in a time in which they look forward to winning the battle against the terrorist groups which have reached their end," said Iraqi Army commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Aziz al-Obaidi.

"Iraqi forces reached the self-sufficiency stage in training, as new military trainers and experts in combating terrorism, street fighting and chasing terror cells have graduated. We can say that the Iraqi army has become capable of protecting all of Iraq from the terrorists," he told Mawtani.

Politicians welcome 'new era'

Government officials and members of parliament said consecutive parliamentary elections in Iraq demonstrate the significant political achievements made since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

"The democratic system in Iraq has become the strongest in the Middle East region," said Iraqi government official spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh. "We now have freedom of opinion, multiple parties, and peaceful rotation of power. In addition, Iraq is becoming increasingly stronger and more solid unlike the dictatorial systems that are becoming weaker and more confused."

He told Mawtani that this year's April 9th celebration "represents the start of a new era in which there is no difference between Iraqis and there are no second-class citizens. Rather, there is the law and system that guarantee the same rights and duties for everyone."

Ziad al-Qabbani, a member of Rafidain Sons Movement in Baghdad, said the political process is "more mature this year".

"We have found responsiveness, understanding and a solid foundation on which the different factions in Iraq agree," he said. "The Iraqi parliament in its current session has become representative of all Iraqis of all sects and religions."

Lawmaker Nadhum al-Hasani of the State of Law Coalition said, "The people of Iraq consider this day to be a day of joy, happiness, salvation from dictatorship, and a great victory for democracy."

But he acknowledged that Iraqis continue to face challenges.

"A few sick people, extremists, and enemies of freedom and democracy tried to spoil this change and new life," al-Hasani said. "Therefore, we have to continue to fight them and we should not consider April 9th a day of complete salvation. Instead, we as Iraqis must complete our victory with our own hands and continue with what has been done for us by other friendly countries that have agreed to help us."

Khalid Abdullah, a member of parliament's Security and Defense Committee, said Iraqi forces are becoming more independent.

"For a year, Iraqi forces have been leading the battle against terrorism alone," he said. "US forces provide them with support, training and advice when needed, which is what contributes to improving the performance of the Iraqi forces."

Lawmaker Hameed al-Hayes of the Iraqi National Coalition described April 9th as "a day for not only getting rid of Saddam's regime, but also for changing politics in Iraq to another state characterized by democracy, transparency and freedom".

"This day represents the birth of a new Iraq and removal of Baath regime, one-party system and domination," he said. "Everyone knows that terrorism has found a chance to hit democracy in Iraq at its birth, and that it is still trying to do that. However, it has failed, and will fail."

Mahmoud Othman a lawmaker representing the Kurdish Alliance said April 9th is "the day of change in Iraq for the better".

"April 9th was the day on which Iraqis became united against injustice, mass graves and human massacres," he said.

Iraqi citizens look forward to April 9th

Iraqi citizens stressed the need to preserve the young democratic process and make it a success to prevent terrorism from destabilizing country.

"April 9th is a day of happiness, joy, survival and smiles that were put on Iraqi lips," said Soumia Jassim, 55, a resident of Fallujah. "We will not allow terrorism, proponents of extremism, or enemies of democracy to hide that day or make us forget it."

As the celebration draws closer, Kamal Ali, a 47-year-old taxi driver in Baghdad, said he has noticed that security has improved.

"A year ago, I could not enter certain areas or neighborhoods in Baghdad," he said. "However, today, I can go around in any area to take orders and passengers to any place in Iraq."

"This celebration will be a distinguished one and will feature spontaneous popular joy for a simple reason, which is that Iraqis have become free of the domination of terrorism that was prohibiting and banning any celebration of National Day," Ali said. "It is a wonderful achievement, and we are making progress year after year."

Saad Jabbar, 30, a resident of Baghdad, said April 9th "represents the first step in getting rid of dictatorship and slavery".

"We have to continue with the second step, which is getting rid of terrorism and establishing democracy on firm ground in Iraq," he said.

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  • READER COMMENTS

    كورديَك

    2011-4-20

    Iraq was liberated for the sake of toppling the system of the dictatorship. However, almost all countries stood against the liberation of Iraq, and this unfortunately made Iraq experience killings and explosions. So far, thousands of people have become victims of terrorism and the backward ideology of al-Qaeda and their affiliates, such as the Salafi and Takfiri groups. The toppling of the previous regime was a good thing; otherwise, we would have stayed at the mercy of this suppressive and terrorist regime forever. People might describe it as an occupation, while they forget about what Saddam had committed against the people of Iraq. Those who describe the liberation of Iraq as an occupation, they praise what is happening now in other countries, even though foreign forces are interfering. People like Yusuf Al-Qardhawi, for example; he was encouraging the terrorists to carry out terrorist attacks with his statements. For God’s sake, what logic do such people believe in?!! However, I am optimist that there is a God that questions us all and punishes those who use religion for political purposes, igniting violence. May God damn them. It is a pity that all our lives were wasted by this ugly regime. Those who claim that we are occupied, let them see Halabja, Anfal and fighting between the Kurds and Saddam, who was attacking the people brutally and raping girls and women. Damn the terrorists.

  • كورديَك

    2011-4-20

    Iraq was liberated for the sake of toppling the system of the dictatorship. However, almost all countries stood against the liberation of Iraq, and this unfortunately made Iraq experience killings and explosions. So far, thousands of people have become victims of terrorism and the backward ideology of al-Qaeda and their affiliates, such as the Salafi and Takfiri groups. The toppling of the previous regime was a good thing; otherwise, we would have stayed at the mercy of this suppressive and terrorist regime forever. People might describe it as an occupation, while they forget about what Saddam had committed against the people of Iraq. Those who describe the liberation of Iraq as an occupation, they praise what is happening now in other countries, even though foreign forces are interfering. People like Yusuf Al-Qardhawi, for example; he was encouraging the terrorists to carry out terrorist attacks with his statements. For God’s sake, what logic do such people believe in?!! However, I am optimist that there is a God that questions us all and punishes those who use religion for political purposes, igniting violence. May God damn them. It is a pity that all our lives were wasted by this ugly regime. Those who claim that we are occupied, let them see Halabja, Anfal and the fighting between the Kurds and Saddam, who was attacking the people brutally and raping girls and women. Damn the terrorists.

  • يونس

    2011-4-20

    A thousand congratulations to the Iraqis on Liberation Day.

  • نديم محمد

    2011-4-16

    Congratulations to the Iraqi people.

  • رياض

    2011-4-12

    I want you to post the news of today.

  • باله باواني

    2011-4-9

    I congratulate the Iraqi people on the occasion of the fall of the hateful tyrant, and I hope that they will organize festivals and celebrations countrywide to commemorate this national festival. The parliament should issue a law considering April 9, 2003, as Liberation Day. Iraq has taken the lead and ousted the dictatorial regime, and built the state of law as well as the institutions of a democratic regime. These were the same objectives over which the Arab peoples have revolted from the Ocean to the Gulf. Were it not for the malicious terrorism, the Iraqis would have made many achievements in terms of construction, peace, advancement and prosperity. A greeting to the honorable Iraqi people on the Day of Liberation.

  • السيد واثق البطاط

    2011-4-9

    We have to realize that our patriotism requires us to be extremely keen on protecting our blood, honor and wealth. Some enemies try to divide us according to ethnicities. There is no doubt that our disunity is harmful, because we must be united to build Iraq and eliminate poverty to make Baghdad again the capital of light and the beacon of science of the whole world. We must help each other to reach this end, and we have to ignore the Baath party and the hateful Wahhabism. They dream of returning to Iraq, but this is impossible.

  • نور

    2011-4-9

    I wish that what is written here were found in reality.

  • فلاح محمد كريم محمد امين

    2011-4-8

    On the ninth of April every year, the Iraqis celebrate the victory that they did not achieve on their own, but with foreign help. What a beautiful victory! It is like an army officer who holds a fake certificate, while he does not know how to read or write.

  • حمزة ساهي

    2011-4-8

    What do we remember about Saddam Hussein, other than the tragedies, and the absurd wars, first against the Iraqis, and then against our neighbors, who were not guilty of any mistake on their part, other than being destined to be adjacent to us, in a country ruled by a reckless tyrant called Saddam Hussein. We have tasted actual democracy, and we will never accept being less than the other civilized nations whose own children rule freely, not dictatorially, at was the case under the former regime, whose ministers were all from Al-‘Ujah Village, which failed to provide us with a single Iraqi senior official who has the qualities of a real leader.  Is it possible that a one-kilometer square village could rule Iraq with its 18 governorates tyrannically with fire and steel and by the mass graves that were discovered? The ninth of April was actually a happy day, and it will be complete with the departure of the coalition forces, which have contributed thankfully in ousting the tyrant of Iraq.