After nine months of negotiations, Iraq's leaders have formed a new government that is inclusive of all of the country's main political blocs and ethnic groups.
Now another challenge arises: governing effectively in order to meet the needs of the Iraqi people. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has identified a number of top priorities, including security. The last U.S. troops, of which there are about 50,000, are scheduled to leave his country by the end of next year. Since 2006, under al-Maliki's administration, the country has seen a significant reduction in violence, but more work needs to be done to provide the level of stability the Iraqi people need and deserve.
Another of the new government's challenges is creating a reliable electrical power system. Iraq now generates more electricity than ever in its history, but it still isn't enough to meet the ever-increasing power demands of a growing nation. The new government and the newly appointed electricity minister have said that addressing this critical need will be a priority.
Even as U.S. military engagement in Iraq is drawing to a close, the U.S. will continue to work with Iraq on issues related to security and prosperity. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently that with a new Iraqi government in place, the U.S. looks forward "to expanding our economic and security relationship, promoting cooperation on science, education, and health, strengthening the rule of law and transparent governance, deepening our cultural exchanges, and improving our partnership in all the areas laid out in our Strategic Framework Agreement."
The formation of a new government is a milestone in the emergence of the new Iraq. It constitutes a resounding rejection of the extremists who tried to derail the democratic process and sow discord among Iraqis. Iraq is a great nation with a promising future and the U.S. will stand shoulder to shoulder with the new government to help it build on what has already been achieved.