Sunday, September 24, 2006

Italian Forces say 'arevaderche' in Dhi Qar

Iraqi Police Parade
Originally uploaded by Sydney Weasel.
Multi-National Force – Iraq Press Release

CAMP UR, Iraq — With a flourish of his pen, Dhi Qar governor Aziz Kadum Alwan Al Ogheli officially took over governmental and security responsibility for Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province from British and Italian forces in an elaborate ceremony at an Iraqi Army training base near Tallil Thursday.

“It is a great day,” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki said. “It holds the message of the future handover of security control in all Iraq.”

Indeed, the handover was another milestone in the road to Iraqi self-reliance known as Provincial Iraqi Control, or PIC. It places full security responsibility with the Provincial Governor and his local Iraqi police force, which now numbers some 10,000. The governor also coordinates with national police and Iraqi Army forces, whose 10th Division, 3rd Brigade has two battalions in the region.

The handover marks the second of Iraq’s 18 provinces returned to local control. British forces transferred security responsibility for neighboring Muthana province in July. {Click on image for photo details}

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although the Italian government will continue to add to the $700 million spent on reconstruction projects in the region since 2003 – from refurbishing hospitals in An Nasiriyah to pesticide-spraying 2,300 acres of date palms to preserve an important crop -- the 1,600 Italian troops responsible for Dhi Qar’s security will withdraw from Iraq over the next two months and return to Italy.

“La misiona completa (the mission is complete),” Italian Defense Minister Arturo Parisi told the crowd. “Arevaderche.”

A contingent of 450 Australian troops based at Camp Adder in nearby Tallil, will provide “Operational Overwatch” to Dhi Qar, adding the province to Muthana. Some U.S. forces with supply and logistics responsibilities will also remain at Tallil. The Australian troops will respond if needed by Iraqi security forces, but regional spokesman British Maj. Charles Burbridge said the quick-reaction force had not been needed thus far in Muthana, and he did not expect that it would be in Dhi Qar.

“We do expect some initial problems, which happen when you remove the common enemy – the coalition forces -- and the locals jostle amongst themselves a bit,” he said. “But that dies down. Muthana hasn’t gone backward, and we don’t expect Dhi Qar to either.”

Dhi Qar, with 1.8 million residents, has three times the population of Muthana. It includes the city of An Nasiriyah and a stretch of Route 8 – known to coalition forces as Major Supply Route Tampa--which runs north to Baghdad, along with a network of pipelines that bring oil from Basra to the Nasiriyah refinery.

As such, it comes with more security challenges for Iraqi forces than Muthana does.

“In Muthana, if you have Samawa under control, the rest is just desert. Dhi Qar is a little more complicated.” Burbridge said. “But the Iraqis are ready to handle it. That’s what today was all about.”