President Bush said today that Saddam Hussein's regime has "passed into history". But he didn't actually declare victory -- yet.
So when will the war be over?
According to Agence France Press (quoted here in a Malaysian newspaper), the task of declaring victory will probably fall to U.S. General Tommy Franks, who was in Baghdad today. But he'll want to do it in a low-key way.
Timing is everything, said British Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie McCourt. "The danger is leaving it too late, which could allow civil disruptions to come up, or to do it too early, and when we get the humanitarian aid in and people start taking potshots or try to ambush.''
Then, too, declaring an end to the war might put greater pressure on the U.S. to bring law and order to the country. "Under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, an occupying power has a duty to restore and ensure public order and safety in the territory under its authority," according to Human Rights Watch. "Military commanders on the spot must prevent and where necessary suppress serious violations involving the local population. Ensuring local security includes protecting people from reprisals and revenge attacks, such as those directed against members of minority populations or government officials."
Meanwhile, rumors abound that Iraq's former information minister, Muhammed Saeed
al-Sahaf, has committed suicide. That might be a blow to the folks running the wildly popular www.welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com, where al-Sahaf's worldwide cult status has been immortalized in cyberspace.