Looking Back — Part 8, Troops Begin to Withdraw
The year of 2009 began with the U.S. handing over Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace to the Iraqi government along with control of the Green Zone (a ten kilometer square area of central Baghdad where the Coalition Provisional Authority resided, the temporary government set up by the coalition) on January 1. This was an important symbol to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, proposed that January 1 should be remembered as “Sovereignty Day” to remember what happened.
On January 31, provincial elections were held to elect provincial candidates for each of the Iraqi provinces. With the elections came threats to the candidates as well as threats about what would happen if certain candidates lost.
On February 27, 2009, the newly sworn in President of the United States, Barack Obama, announced that all combat missions in Iraq would cease by August 31, 2010. Finally, the end of the war in Iraq was in sight! Troops would remain in Iraq until the end of 2011 (up to 50,000), but only to provide training for the Iraqi Security Forces, provide general support, and conduct some counter-terrorism.
April 9, 2009 brought protests in Baghdad as the war reached its sixth anniversary. The Iraqi citizens demanded that all coalition troops leave the country immediately and an effigy of former President Bush was burn. The end of April brought about Britain pulling out all of its combat units located in Iraq.
In June, U.S. troops begin to withdraw from 28 bases, which are handed over to the Iraq military. They also begin to withdraw from Baghdad as well.
After six years of fighting in Iraq, fighting begins to die down and the country begins to look more stable. The war is coming to a close, and yet we must wonder if what the U.S. troops accomplished in Iraq was worth the lives that were lost. But there’s no doubt that we appreciate the courage and strength that it took for every soldier who fought and tried to help rebuild the villages and the cities of Iraq. That’s one thing we can agree on.
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