Anbar Province returns to Iraqi control

Statement from John McCain:

ARLINGTON, VA — Today, U.S. Senator John McCain issued the following statement regarding the handover of responsibility in Anbar province:

“Today’s handover of responsibility from the U.S. to Iraq in Anbar province is a solemn and proud moment for the Iraqi people and for the people of the United States. We have sacrificed much together to make this day possible. Eighteen months ago, many people considered Anbar lost. It was the hard core of the insurgency, the place where Iraqis were thought most supportive of the insurgency and least willing to accept the new political order a democratic Iraq promised.

“But the people of Anbar and their leaders chose a different course, and the surge I advocated supported them. Violence has dropped by over 80 percent in Anbar. Sunni sheiks advocate provincial elections that will give them greater representation in government. Iraqi people are gaining the normal lives they yearn for. Together, we are succeeding in Anbar.

“Today, we should commemorate the political courage of Iraqis in Anbar who stood up to lead the Awakening. The Iraqi Security Forces are leading operations, with our forces in support. America must continue to help them succeed. Our Marines have done a superb job fighting alongside Iraqis to defeat Al Queda, supporting the positive political developments, and helping rebuild Anbar. So have the soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division, and the sailors of the 22nd Naval Construction Regiment. Thank you for your service.

“We must not forget that there is still work to be done in Anbar, and throughout Iraq. Political reconciliation needs to be furthered. Economic opportunity needs to be expanded. Reconstruction needs to advance, funded primarily by the government of Iraq. Provincial elections need to be held. And there are seven more Iraqi provinces yet to be returned to provincial Iraqi control.”