Iraq Vote Marks Fading US Power
Iraqis taking over
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 1, 2009 7:26 AM CST
Iraqi election officials examine a ballot after the polls closed in the country's provincial elections.   (AP Photo/Ahmed al-Husseini)
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(Newser) – As Iraqis headed to the polls yesterday, it was clear that American sway over the country is fading fast, the New York Times reports. Some 140,000 US troops remain in the country, but their presence is far less visible, and Iraqis have made bold strides in setting a firm 2011 US departure date.

The Iraqis now view the country’s problems as their own to handle, the Times notes. “It’s much better for us and for them if they stay in their bases now,” said one government worker of US troops. Still, Iraqis need American help to protect against terrorism and threats from their neighbors, and for the US, Iraq remains a key strategic base in the Middle East, observers note.