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Display of Iraqi Freedom

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Tagged As: Foreign Affairs, History, Iraq, and Politics

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreement will establish operational rules and legal jurisdiction between the American military and the Iraqi government. Barely two weeks ago, the Iraqi parliament voted on and approved the final measures of the SOFA which affixes a withdrawal of American forces from Iraqi cities by June of 2009 and a complete withdrawal by the end of 2011.

In an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Sunday, President Bush stood beside Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki just prior to signing the SOFA for a press conference. Shortly into the event, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, a reporter for the TV channel Al-Baghdadia, hurled both of his shoes at President Bush exclaiming "This is a farewell … you dog!" He was immediately taken from the press conference into Iraqi custody.

At face value, the outburst was nothing more than a demonstration of the wide sweeping dissatisfaction (if not outright hatred) that people across the world generally feel for President Bush. The demonstration, however, has opened several political and social floodgates revealing a deeper nature of the new Iraq. He has created a wave of public, national pride exhibited by Iraqi media and throngs of protesters urging his release by the government. This creates an intriguing dilemma for the Iraqi government that currently holds him. Should he be incarcerated for assault - an action befitting of a government's police system? Should he be released - a definitive demonstration of Iraq's sovereignty and rallying national pride?

But ultimately, the underlying act of throwing his shoes at a world leader (and had he missed by a wider margin, hitting his own Prime Minister) was a demonstration of success in Iraq. Muntadhar al-Zaidi has not been executed nor has he been tortured as he would have been under Saddam's regime. Furthermore, under the previous regime al-Zaidi never would have had the privilege to be present in the press conference as a free journalist, especially as a known anti-America/anti-Iran/pro-al-Sadr journalist.

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