Before the invasion of coalition troops into Iraq just three short years ago, Iraq was a decaying state ruled by a pitiless dictator who tortured and murdered thousands of Iraqis. Today, Iraq has a new permanent government and the Iraqi people, including many Sunni Arabs, who have been described as "rejectionists" and have been core to the insurgency, voted the new government in in free elections with voter turnout that should make Americans ashamed and proved many whining pessimists to be wrong.
Iraqi forces have become more and more responsible for protecting their own territory in 2005, fighting side by side with the coalition in many instances, growing from a few battalions to more than 125 army and police combat battalions. In Baghdad, as military operations have decreased the number of car bombs and roadside bombs, insurgents have had to resort to less successful drive-by shootings or mortar and rocket attacks.
As security has grown, many cities have begun to see economic growth. International creditors have forgiven Iraq billions of dollars of debt, and money from many international institutions are providing the Iraqi people with increased opportunities for business growth.
Now it is not just the privileged who have access to clean water, health care and reliable electricity. Reconstruction efforts are changing the face of Iraq.
Of course,there are challenges ahead, but all in all, it would be hard to fathom that the Iraqis are not beginning to relish the changes in freedom that have taken place in 2005. Good for Iraq! Good for America! Good for the world, particularly the Arab world! (Thanks, Allan, it needed a better ending!)