Iraq held its first full military parade since the fall of Saddam today—now known as Sovereignty Day—to celebrate the official withdrawal of US troops from cities and towns. The proceedings took place inside the Green Zone and were screened on television, but several media outlets, including the New York Times, were barred from attending because they had the "wrong permit." PM Nouri al-Maliki praised Iraqi politicians for "putting down the sectarian war," but made no mention of the US effort over six years.
Maliki also cautioned the media not to question his forces' abilities, suggesting that any doubts would encourage insurgents. Parks were packed last night for concerts and celebrations, and police cars and blast walls were decorated with flowers, flags, and posters, though the Times detected the hand of the authorities in the decorating and dancing—many of the revelers were off-duty cops, the paper reports—and said ordinary Iraqis are considerably less confident that their new sovereignty would come with adequate security.