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Dec 18th, 2011


‘The War is Over’: Last U.S. Soldiers Leave Iraq

Video

Last troops leave Iraq (NBC “Today,” Dec. 18, 2011) – Nearly nine years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, the last American troops crossed the border into Kuwait, marking the end of the war that cost more than 4,500 American lives. NBC’s Richard Engel reports on the pullout. (04:22)

The Associated Press, Reuters, and NBC News via via MSNBC.com
December 18, 2011

KHABARI CROSSING, Kuwait — The last American troops crossed the border from Iraq into Kuwait early Sunday, ending the U.S. military presence there after nearly nine years.

As the last convoy left Iraq at daybreak Sunday, soldiers whooped, bumped fists and embraced each other in a burst of joy and relief, The Associated Press reported. …

After a ceremony Thursday in Baghdad formally marking the end of the war, the timing and all other details of the departure of the last convoy were kept under tight secrecy due to security concerns. The low-key end to the war was just another reminder of how dangerous Iraq remains, even though violence is lower now than at any other time since the 2003 invasion. …

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little [reported] Sunday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “approved the order officially ending the Iraq war” at 6:59 a.m. ET.

The Iraq war began on March 20, 2003, at a time when national defense was a top priority for Americans still shocked by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It continued with the invasion and ouster of Saddam Hussein, then ground through years of war against an insurgency that left tens of thousands dead.

Among those dead were nearly 4,500 Americans, and the war cost $800 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The question of whether it was worth it all is yet unanswered. …

For President Barack Obama, the military pullout is the fulfilment of an election promise to bring troops home from a conflict inherited from his predecessor that tainted America’s standing worldwide.

For Iraqis, it brings a sense of sovereignty but fuels worries their country may slide once again into the kind of sectarian violence that killed thousands of people at its peak in 2006-2007.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government still struggles with a delicate power-sharing arrangement between Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni parties, leaving Iraq vulnerable to meddling by Sunni Arab nations and Shiite Iran. …

At the height of the war, more than 170,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq at more than 500 bases. By Saturday, there were fewer than 3,000 troops, and one base. …

A handful of U.S. military personnel will remain in the country, working with the U.S. Embassy to help with arms sales and training for Iraqi forces. Talks could resume next year on whether more U.S. troops can return for future training missions.

In the meantime, U.S. officials say there will be roughly 16,000 people involved in the American diplomatic effort in Iraq.

About 2,000 will be diplomats and federal workers. The remaining 14,000 will be contractors — roughly half involved with security.

Full story

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Related story

Remembering the last slain American


Spc. David Hickman became the 4,487th U.S. military fatality and the last American to die in combat in the Iraq war on November 14, 2011, when his unit was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Baghdad.

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Iraq: Images of a War and Its Toll

The eight-year U.S. military operation in Iraq produced these enduring images.

Click link above or image below to view photo gallery

Samar Hassan, 5, screams after her parents were killed by soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division, Jan. 18, 2005. They opened fire on the Hassans’ car when it unwittingly approached them during a dusk patrol in the tense northern Iraqi town of Tall Afar. Parents Hussein and Camila Hassan were killed instantly, and a son, Racan, 11, was seriously wounded. Racan, paralyzed from the waist down, was later treated in the United States. (Photo credit: Chris Hondros / Getty Images)

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1/22/2012 Update

Iraq Becoming Police State, Warns Rights Group

Image: Iraqi residents grieve at the site of a bomb attack in Nassiriya
Iraqi residents grieve at the site of a bomb attack in Nassiriya, 185 miles southeast of Baghdad on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012. A suicide bomber targeting Shi’ite pilgrims killed at least 30 people and wounded at least 70 others in southern Iraq. (Photo credit: Reuters)

The Associated Press and Reuters via MSNBC.com
January 22, 2012

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Shiite-led government cracked down harshly on dissent during the past year of Arab Spring uprisings, turning the country into a “budding police state” as autocratic regimes crumbled elsewhere in the region, an international rights groups said Sunday.

Security forces abuse protesters, harass journalists, torture detainees and intimidate activists, Human Rights Watch said in the Iraq chapter of its annual report.

Iraq is quickly slipping back into authoritarianism[link added], said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for the New York-based group. “Despite U.S. government assurances that it helped create a stable democracy (in Iraq), the reality is that it left behind a budding police state,” she said.

Protests against Iraq’s U.S.-backed and democratically elected government erupted around the country in February 2011, alongside other demonstrations in the Arab world.

While protests in other countries demanded the downfall of autocratic regimes, most of the demonstrations in Iraq pushed for improved services like reliable electricity and water, and an end to corruption.

The government clamped down, sometimes sparking bloody clashes — as when 14 were killed in confrontations between security forces and civilians across the country during the Feb. 25 protests billed as the “Day of Rage[link added]. A year later, with U.S. troops withdrawn and Iraq’s government mired in a political crisis, the protest movement has all but died out. Demonstrators who gather in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square are usually outnumbered by the security forces watching over them.

“Iraqis are quickly losing ground on the most basic of rights, including the right to free speech and assembly,” said Samer Muscati, an Iraq researcher for the group. “Nowadays, every time someone attends a peaceful protest, they put themselves at risk of attack and abuse by security forces or their proxies,” he said.

Prison brutality, including torture in detention facilities, was a major problem throughout the year, the group’s annual report said.

In February 2011 Human Rights Watch uncovered a secret detention center, controlled by elite forces who report to the prime minister’s military office. …

Full story

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Related reports on this site

Senseless Waste of Taxpayer Dollars in Iraq, Afghanistan (Aug. 31, 2011)

Endless U.S. War Price Tag Hits $4 Trillion (June 29, 2011)

Another War Like Iraq ‘Nuts’ (Feb. 26, 2011)

Iraq WMD Lie Exposed (Feb. 15, 2011)

Colossal Taxpayer Waste in Iraq (Aug. 29, 2010)

Bush-Cheney ‘Hell Bent’ on War (Nov. 27, 2009)

Iraq War Plan Soon After 9/11 (Nov. 22, 2009)

Iraq Projects Down the Tubes (Nov. 21, 2009)

Iraqi Neglect Costs U.S. Taxpayers (April 29, 2009)

Trillion-Dollar Wars Since 9/11 (March 30, 2009)

Feds Widen Iraq Corruption Probe (Feb. 15, 2009)

Iraq Rebuilding ‘$100 Billion Failure’ (Dec. 14, 2008)

Iraq: Intelligence and Policy Failure (Dec. 10, 2008)

Billions Lost on Reconstruction Projects in Iraq (July 28, 2008)

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12/21/2011 Update: Dozens die in wave of attacks as Iraq’s sectarian conflict ignites


Smoke rises from the site of a bomb attack in central Baghdad
on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2011. (Photo: Mohammed Ameen / Reuters)

Dozens Die As 14 Bombs Explode Across Baghdad

Image: Iraqi security forces inspect a crater caused by a car bomb in Baghdad, Iraq
Iraqi security forces inspect a crater caused by a car bomb attack in the Karrada neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2011. (Photo credit: Hadi Mizban / AP)

The Associated Press and Reuters via MSNBC.com
December 21, 2011

BAGHDAD — A wave of bombings ripped across Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing at least 60 people and injuring more than 150 in the worst violence Iraq has seen for months. The bloodbath comes just days after American forces left the country.

The blasts also came on the heels of a political crisis between Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite factions that erupted this weekend.

The political spat has raised fears that Iraq’s sectarian wounds will be reopened during a fragile time when Iraq is finally navigating its own political future without U.S. military support.

Most of the attacks appeared to hit Shiite neighborhoods although some Sunni areas were also targeted. …

Iraqi officials said at least 14 blasts went off early Thursday morning in 11 neighborhoods around the city.

Figures gathered from Iraqi health and police officials across the city put the death toll at 60, with 160 injured. The spokesman for the Iraqi health ministry put the death toll at 57 and said at least 176 people were injured. …

Full story

Video

Wave of attacks kills dozens in Baghdad (NBC “Today,” Dec. 21, 2011) – A wave of coordinated bombings ripped across Baghdad Thursday morning, killing at least 60 people and injuring nearly 200. NBC’s Richard Engel reports. (02:20)

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12/22/2012 Update

Video

A year after U.S. pullout, is life better in Iraq? (NBC News, Dec. 21, 2012) – One year after the U.S. military pullout, Iraq teeters between statehood and failure. NBC News’ Jim Maceda reports. (02:44)

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2 Responses to “End of Iraq War for US”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » ‘Day of Defeating the Occupier’ Celebrated in Iraq Says:

    [...] End of Iraq War for U.S. (Dec. 18, 2011) [...]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Missing Soldier Search Continues Says:

    [...] The Last American Killed in the Iraq War (Dec. 18, 2011) [...]

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