Looking Back — Part 7, Transitioning

In March 2008, Pentagon reported that violence in Iraq had been reduced by as much as 80 percent, but assessments by independent sources felt that number was inaccurate. Supposedly, there had only been 265 deaths since the “Surge” plan began 28 days previously, and yet the New York Times estimated that at least 450 civilians in Iraq had been killed in that same time period (and their estimates were typically lower that the actual number by as much as 50 percent).

Violence continued to die down throughout 2008, but it was found that this was not so much due to U.S. troops. In the years of 2006 and 2007, there were mini-battles going on in Baghdad for control of the city between the Shia and Sunni. The Shia basically kicked the Sunni out of the city and if any of them tried to come back to reclaim their homes, they were assassinated. Once that pretty much ended and the Shia were in control of the city, violence died down, with no involvement from the U.S. military.

On February 21, 2008, troops from Turkey entered Iraq soil, in the Quandeel Mountains region, to fight the PKK, a group that is fighting Turkey to become free and sovereign from Turkey and create their own country called Kurdistan. The Iraqi cabinet, as well as the Kurdistan regional government, called for the troops to withdraw immediately from the area. The Turkish troops withdrew only eight days after they entered the area.

The year of 2008 saw much of the control held by the U.S. being transferred to Iraq’s police and military. In the spring, the Iraqi military launched an offense against Shia militias that needed to be shut down. First began an operation against the Mehdi Army in Basra during the month of March. By October, that area was said to be secure. In May, the Iraqi army, which was supported by the coalition (that included soldiers from all nations involved to help), launched a fight in Mosul — the last major location of al-Qaeda within Iraq.

More to come as we look back.

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