In an unexpected move, the U.S.-led coalition handed over sovereignty to Iraq on Monday, two days before the transfer was scheduled. The step was apparently an attempt to flex muscles at resistance fighters in Iraq who hoped to sabotage Iraq’s new self-rule.
The ceremony took place on Monday and was over before it was announced, according to Al-Jazeera.
In a low-key ceremony, U.S. Governor in Iraq Paul Bremer presented legal documents to Iraqi officials detailing the transfer of powers and has reportedly left the country.
Iraqi President Ghazi Al-Yawar said this is a historic day that Iraqis have been looking forward to. He said the ceremony marks the beginning of the country’s incorporation “back into the international community.”
The transfer of power coincided with the NATO summit in the neighboring Turkey. The summit is being attended by high-ranking leaders from around the world, including U.S. President George W. Bush.
The Iraqi issue was discussed at length at the summit, and members vowed to help train Iraqi security forces fight dissidents.
The early handover generated criticism from Arabs and non-Arabs alike, claiming the allied forces are fleeing the country for fear of more blows to their forces and citizens.
Following the transfer of power, Iraq needs to deal with securing law and order with the help of about 135,000 American troops and some 20,000 from other coalition countries.