The Iraqis, on the first of January, are assuming security responsibilities for the International Zone, aka the Green Zone. In the past, the U.S. military controlled access to the "city within a city"; home to the Coalition and the seat of Iraq's government. As of tomorrow the U.S. Army will turn over all of the access control points (checkpoints) to the Iraqi army. I shudder.
For the past couple of weeks the Iraqi army has been doing a "left seat-right seat" with the Americans, shadowing them as soldiers dutifully checked ID cards, vehicles and pedestrians entering and exiting the zone. Over time the Iraqis have assumed primacy at the checkpoints while their American counterparts remained in in the background.
As a result the Iraqi army has quadrupled the number of soldiers manning the access points. Now when you drive into the checkpoint you're greeted by a hoard of AK-welding Iraqi soldiers all seriously directing you to do "something", most often in opposition to the direction of their peer standing right next to them; stop, pull-forward, get out of the car, stay in the car! Each becoming more agitated as you fail to comply. It's utter chaos, no one is seemingly in charge and you don't know who to listen to. In the past, failure to follow these commands would get you shot. Needless to say it's both confusing and very, very tense.
I look at the two American soldiers standing in the background, pleading for some sort of organization or sanity. One looks at me and shrugs. Welcome to the future of Iraq.