(What does this mean on a practical level?) it means that absolute control of security now rests with Iraqi rather than U.S. commanders. We had been expecting this transfer a couple of months now, so these have been the conditions for a while now. (We know there are 25,000 U.S. forces still in Anbar. Is there any plan for them to leave?) An American commander said those forces are going to stay but only come out of their bases if they're absolutely needed. They don't want to take any chances with Anbar given its history. (But does that send a bad message to the Iraqis?) They say they're very confident and the handover ceremony in Ramadi was a sign of that. And that's the assessment of the U.S. as well. They believe Al Qaeda is nothing like the force it once was in Anbar because the local people turned against Al Qaeda. That's why the security situation got so much better, but there are other provinces in Iraq where security is a big problem, such as Baghdad. Hundreds of people still die every month in this country.
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