Thursday, March 04, 2004

Baghdad international airport

The US is going to turn over Baghdad international airport within one year:

Seeking to lower the American profile in Iraq, a top U.S. military commander said Wednesday that he would remove U.S. forces from the palaces of toppled leader Saddam Hussein and had ordered the military to hand over Baghdad's international airport within a year.

The move to leave the palaces is designed to counter the view that Hussein's government has simply been replaced as Iraq's overlords by American soldiers occupying the same opulent seats of power.

The U.S.-led occupation is scheduled to hand over sovereignty to Iraqis at the end of June, and U.S.-led forces are trying to encourage the impression that Iraqis are increasingly governing and policing themselves.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of operations in Iraq, outlined his plan in a congressional hearing after Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) asked whether American troops would vacate the "symbols of evil" that leave U.S. forces carrying "the baggage of the Hussein regime."

"They did bad things in those palaces," Taylor said of Hussein-era officials.

Abizaid said that "turning over these important symbols of sovereignty will demonstrate to the Iraqi people that this is a partnership and not domination."


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