An epochal media moment Monday night on ABC’s World News? In an upbeat story about the election in Iraq “with virtually no violence,” reporter Jim Sciutto raised the possibility the war is now over -- just in time to enable President Barack Obama to fulfill his promise to reduce troop levels -- as Sciutto asked a member of Iraq's parliament: “Is this the end of the war?” Mahmoud Othman cautiously predicted: “If the Iraqi leaders could get together and work together sincerely, yes, this could be the end of the war.”
Anchor Charles Gibson set up the story by asserting the Saturday elections “mark a major turning point in the Iraqi effort to move forward and the U.S. desire to pull back.” Sciutto began with a woman who agreed with his premise “Iraq is ready to move on without the Americans.” Sciutto described how “almost every day there's another handover from American to Iraqi authority” and that “it was Iraqi soldiers who kept polling stations remarkably safe” while check points “used to be manned by American soldiers. Today, they are almost exclusively Iraqi security forces.”
Transcript of the piece on the Monday, February 2 World News on ABC:
CHARLES GIBSON: Overseas next, to Iraq, where it will take several days before results are in from Saturday’s provincial elections. Just over half of the eligible voters turned out for the election which mark a major turning point in the Iraqi effort to move forward and the U.S. desire to pull back. Here's our senior foreign correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
JIM SCIUTTO: As Iraqis voted to decide their future, it was clear many were also putting America in the past. More confident in their leaders and themselves.
SCIUTTO TO HIBA AL-YASSIN: Do you think Iraq is ready to move on without the Americans?
HIBA AL-YASSIN, IRAQI VOTER: I think, yeah, Iraq is ready.
SCIUTTO: Are you ready as well?
AL-YASSIN: I am ready as well.
SCIUTTO: Already, almost every day there's another handover from American to Iraqi authority. Today, it was one of the joint security stations set up during the troop surge.
LT. COLONEL MONTY WILLOUGHBY, 10th CALVARY, U.S. ARMY: Now it's time to give this facility back to its rightful owner.
SCIUTTO: It was Iraqi soldiers who kept polling stations remarkably safe during Saturday's elections with virtually no violence. U.S. commanders monitored via surveillance cameras. The Iraqi air force is flying again. And the Green Zone, a reviled symbol of the occupation, is now in Iraqi hands.
Across the capital, check points like this one used to be manned by American soldiers. Today, they are almost exclusively Iraqi security forces. Even reconstruction projects are increasingly paid for by the Iraqi government. Except for a handful of operations, U.S. troops are retreating from city centers. And they're operating with Iraqi permission and under Iraqi rules, such as a 24-hour limit on detaining suspects.
MAJOR MIKE SOLIS, 9th DIVISION, MITT TEAM: Really, it's the Iraqi army, the Iraqi security forces and the government of Iraq that are in the lead here.
SCIUTTO: Iraqis are now openly discussing a once distant prospect.
SCIUTTO TO MAHMOUD OTHMAN: Is this the end of the war?
MAHMOUD OTHMAN, IRAQI PARLIAMENT MEMBER: If the Iraqi leaders could get together and work together sincerely, yes, this could be the end of the war.
SCIUTTO: The end of the war here?
OTHMAN: Could be.
SCIUTTO: For the U.S., a different kind of relationship with Iraq, less protector than ally. Jim Sciutto, ABC News, Baghdad.