Year in Review, 2008
2008 news of the world from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
Conditions Deteriorate in Afghanistan | India Rocked By a Wave of Terrorist Attacks | Hopes Are Dashed for Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians Under the Bush Administration | Kosovo Declares Independence | North Korea Continues Roller Coaster Diplomacy | Changing of the Guard in Pakistan | Putin Retains Power | Russian-Georgian Conflict | Turmoil Within South Africa's Ruling Party | Elections Fail to Bring Change or Hope to Zimbabwe
Iraq on the Path Toward Effective Leadership
Throughout 2008, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Parliament made strides in both legislative and security issues, allowing for cautious optimism that Iraq was on the road to becoming a functioning democracy.
That path, however, was not always smooth. For much of 2008, Iraqi lawmakers struggled to pass two pieces of critical legislation: an election law and a status-of-forces agreement. Parliament managed to approve a scaled-down election law in September that set provincial elections for early 2009 in most parts of Iraq, but elections in the disputed city of Kirkuk were postponed.
After nearly a year of negotiations with the U.S., the Iraqi cabinet and Parliament in November passed the status-of-forces agreement, which will govern the U.S. presence in Iraq through 2011. The terms of the pact include the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops by Dec. 31, 2011, and the removal of U.S. troops from Iraqi cities by the summer of 2009. In addition, the agreement gives Iraqi officials increased jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by off-duty Americans who are off base when the crimes occur.
Improvements in Leadership and Security
Maliki, a Shiite, honed his political skills during 2008. He reached out to Sunnis, who had boycotted the government and withdrew from his cabinet in August 2007. Less than a year later, in April 2008, the largest Sunni block in Iraq's government, Tawafiq, announced it would rejoin the government. Tawafiq's leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, said that by passing an amnesty law and launching an assault on Shiite militias, the government had met enough of its demands to end the boycott.
The security situation in Iraq also improved. Iraqi troops took control of Anbar Province, once called the cradle of the Sunni insurgency, and assumed command of Awakening Councils, groups of moderate Sunnis that turned against the Sunni al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia and threw their support behind the Iraqi government and U.S troops.
Despite the breakthroughs and progress made in 2008, there were setbacks. Indeed, suicide bombings continued to occur on a daily basis, the number of female suicide bombers increased, and the Iraqi military and U.S. troops botched an attempt in March to dismantle Shiite militias, particularly the Mahdi Army led by radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr, that control Basra and its lucrative ports in southern Iraq.
For more information on the state of Iraq in 2008:
- More from 2008 News of the World