...but you wouldn't know it from the mainstream media.
Military.com ran a story from our friends at Stars and Stripes which reported the Marines plan to hand over "Provincial Iraqi Control" of al Anbar province on Saturday (June 29).
Once the most violent place in Iraq, Anbar province will come under Provincial Iraqi Control on Saturday, a senior military official said Monday.
So far, nine Iraqi provinces are under Provincial Iraqi Control, or PIC, in which Iraqi security forces perform day-to-day operations and U.S. troops provide assistance as needed, the military official told reporters.
"When you PIC a province, the coalition force goes into what we call an operational overwatch: They're there, essentially as a security blanket," the official said.
Though the Washington Post ran a story on its Web site today which lead with the heinous attempt by AQI to disrupt the handover by bombing a provincial council meeting and killing an estimated 20 (which hits pretty close to home for me because I met some of these tribal leaders in the very place where the bombing occurred -- see the picture above), the paper edition did not have a story on the handover, nor did the New York Times.
Remember, these were the papers that jumped on the leak of a Marine Corps Intelligence report in September 2006 that Anbar was lost. Wrote the NYTimes:
As the situation has deteriorated, insurgent attacks have increased. The report describes Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as an integral part of the social fabric of Anbar.
Aside from being flat out wrong on that assessment, the stories painted a grim picture of the situation in Anbar and help solidify impressions (with an election coming up just a month later) that Iraq was a lost cause.
But how times have changed. Anbar is flat out boring to go visit anymore. Believe me, I was there for two months in 2005-2006 and I know how violent it was.
And you know I went back in January and now Marines are itching to ditch their protective gear and whining louder and louder about coming home or heading to a real fight in Afghanistan. But why can't the regular media bring themselves to report such a development. Anbar was the headquarters for al Qaeda in Iraq for years -- now it's secure enough to hand over to Iraqi control...before eight other provinces...That's news.
Ok, off my soapbox now.