Looking Back — Part 6, Preparing to Withdraw

The year 2007 saw plans to withdraw troops from Iraq. In January, Bush proposed creating a job program and proposed reconstruction plans. These programs would require $1.2 billion. In the State of the Union address, Bush did propose needing to send 20,000 more soldiers to Iraq, but later in the year, plans to withdraw began.

A new commander of the Multi-National Force was appointed: David Petraeus. Petraeus was given the task of implementing the new “Surge” strategy (also called the “New Way Forward”) that was created by the Bush administration. The basics of this plan was to do the following:

1. Let the Iraqi people lead

2. Help the Iraqis to protect their population

3. Isolate any extremists found

4. Create a way for political progress

5. Diversify economic and political efforts

6. Plan strategy by region

On May 10, 2007, the Iraqi Parliamentary petitioned the U.S. government to create a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Other countries began to withdraw their troops, which added pressure to U.S. troops to protect areas with less personnel. Tony Blair, Britain’s Prime Minister, withdrew the troops that were located in Basra Governorate and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister withdrew troops from Iraq as well (441 in total).

August 14, 2007 was a tragic day that included the worse single attack from throughout the entire war. On that day, insurgents coordinated a series of suicide bomb attacks in Qahtaniya (in northern Iraq). Over 100 homes and shops were destroyed and almost 800 civilians killed. The attacks were blamed on al-Qaeda.

In September 2007, Petraeus announced that he wanted to have 30,000 U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq by the summer of 2008, although Bush said he only backed having a limited number of troops withdrawn.

Also in September, an important ally of the U.S. was killed by a bomb. Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was the leader of the Anbar Awakening, a group of Sunni Arab tribes who opposed the al-Qaeda, and it was the al-Qaeda who took responsibility for Risha’s death.

More to come as we look back on this tragic war.

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