“Iraq’s prime minister today [August 31, 2010] said the end of the US combat role in the country restored Iraq’s independence and made it a sovereign power on an equal footing with America. ‘Iraq today is sovereign and independent,’ Nouri al-Maliki said in a televised address. ‘With the execution of the troop pullout, our relations with the United States have entered a new stage between two equal, sovereign countries.’ The comments came as US forces met president Barack Obama’s deadline for ending his country’s lead role in the war launched by his predecessor George W Bush. …The country will still have just under 50,000 troops in Iraq, down from a peak of 170,000 in 2007 during Bush’s ‘surge,’ which was aimed at helping to stabilise the country. Maliki said Iraqi forces were capable of handling security and protecting people, saying continuing attacks were a ‘desperate attempt by al-Qaida and remnants of the former [Saddam Hussein] regime to prove their presence.’ He added: ‘I assure you that the Iraqi security troops are capable and qualified to shoulder the responsibility.’ ”

 – James Meikle, “Iraqi Prime Minister Says US Pullout Restores Independence,” The Guardian, Aug. 31, 2010