Amid uncertainty, the United States has ended the war in Iraq

Amid uncertainty, the United States has ended the war in Iraq In a formal ceremony officially ending the U.S. war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told soldiers that they leave with pride, saying they could be “secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to cast tyranny aside.” The nearly nine ...

545887_111215_1357880172.jpg
545887_111215_1357880172.jpg

Amid uncertainty, the United States has ended the war in Iraq

In a formal ceremony officially ending the U.S. war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told soldiers that they leave with pride, saying they could be "secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to cast tyranny aside." The nearly nine year long war cost about $800 billion and resulted in 4,500 U.S. soldiers dead and 32,000 wounded. Over 100,000 Iraqis died during the course of the war. At the conflict's peak in 2007, there were 170,000 U.S. forces in Iraq with 505 bases. The remaining 4,000 U.S. troops will leave within the next two weeks. However, 4,000 soldiers will be stationed in neighboring Kuwait, assisting with finalizing the departure as well as staying positioned to return to Iraq if the need arises. About 150 soldiers will remain in Iraq along with Pentagon civilians at the U.S. Embassy's Office of Security Cooperation. Both President Obama, who met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki this week, and Panetta confirmed intentions to maintain strong diplomatic relations with Iraq. With a continued insurgency, political uncertainty, and sectarian tension, the Iraqi public is divided over the withdrawal. Some claim the U.S. departure will leave a vacuum for increased insecurity. Others celebrate the withdrawal, saying the U.S. is "leaving behind killings, ruin, and mess."

Headlines  

Amid uncertainty, the United States has ended the war in Iraq

In a formal ceremony officially ending the U.S. war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told soldiers that they leave with pride, saying they could be “secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to cast tyranny aside.” The nearly nine year long war cost about $800 billion and resulted in 4,500 U.S. soldiers dead and 32,000 wounded. Over 100,000 Iraqis died during the course of the war. At the conflict’s peak in 2007, there were 170,000 U.S. forces in Iraq with 505 bases. The remaining 4,000 U.S. troops will leave within the next two weeks. However, 4,000 soldiers will be stationed in neighboring Kuwait, assisting with finalizing the departure as well as staying positioned to return to Iraq if the need arises. About 150 soldiers will remain in Iraq along with Pentagon civilians at the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Security Cooperation. Both President Obama, who met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki this week, and Panetta confirmed intentions to maintain strong diplomatic relations with Iraq. With a continued insurgency, political uncertainty, and sectarian tension, the Iraqi public is divided over the withdrawal. Some claim the U.S. departure will leave a vacuum for increased insecurity. Others celebrate the withdrawal, saying the U.S. is “leaving behind killings, ruin, and mess.”

Headlines  

  • An Islamist win is expected after the second round of Egyptian elections. Meanwhile, the ruling military released a draft of the presidential election law.
  • Defectors killed 27 Syrian security forces in the southern city of Dara’a, suggesting coordination by the armed insurgents in attacks.
  • Human Rights Watch released a report naming 74 Syrian commanders and officials, including President Assad, who issued detainments, torture, and “shoot to kill” orders.
  • New Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki asked for six months of political and social truce, claiming if conditions do not improve in that time he will resign.
  • After Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu increased the authority of soldiers to clamp down on extremists, another mosque was set on fire prompting President Peres to meet with settler leaders.

Daily Snapshot

 

BAGHDAD, IRAQ – DECEMBER 14: An Iraqi Army special forces soldier (C) keeps watch at a women’s art exhibition sponsored by Iraqi Parliament member Safi Asiheil in a posh Baghdad neighborhood on December 14, 2011 in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq is transitioning nearly nine years after the 2003 U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation. American forces are now in the midst of the final stage of withdrawal from the war-torn country. At least 4,485 U.S. military personnel have died in service in Iraq. According to the Iraq Body Count, more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died from war-related violence (Mario Tama/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis

‘Holding Libya together: security challenges after Qaddafi’ (International Crisis Group)

“Until a more legitimate governing body is formed – which likely means until elections are held – and until more credible national institutions are developed, notably in the areas of defence, policing and vital service delivery, Libyans are likely to be suspicious of the political process, while insisting on both retaining their weapons and preserving the current structure of irregular armed brigades. To try to force a different outcome would be to play with fire, and with poor odds. But that does not mean nothing can be done. Some of the most worrying features of the security patchwork should be addressed cooperatively between the NTC and local military as well as civilian councils.”

‘In Iraq, a man of the shadows’ (David Ignatius, Washington Post)

“Maliki’s visit to Washington this week has been a time for taking stock of Iraq eight years after the U.S. invasion. What did America achieve in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and battling a stubborn insurgency? It brought a democracy, yes, but one shaped by the most basic and sometimes brutal facts of life — allegiance to tribe, sect, clandestine organization. Maliki is a figure of all these immutable forces, a man of the shadows more than the sunlight. He seems to trust only those closest to him, and his efforts to form broad coalitions have failed. The trust deficit is nowhere more evident than in the energy sector, which should make Iraq fantastically rich but is still hobbled by a lack of basic legislation that would foster investment.”

‘Will Yemen’s peace agreement hold?’ (Ibrahim Sharqieh, The National Interest)

“While the agreement signals the start of a much-needed, highly anticipated transition in Yemen, challenges remain. The most difficult of these will be ensuring that the youth opposition in Change Square, the center of protests in the capital city of Sanaa, accept the legitimacy of the deal. Indeed, the parliamentary opposition represented by the JMP signed the accord with Saleh, and they don’t necessarily have the support of the youth or the majority in the street. The youth opposition who began the current uprising ten months ago represent a real force in Yemen and will challenge any implementation of the agreement without their approval. In fact, the protesters are already questioning the agreement’s legitimacy because it grants immunity to Saleh, a pardon they have always fought against. The question of whether the JMP had the right to grant Saleh immunity on behalf of, for example, the families of those who died in protests in the city of Taiz remains unsettled.” 

Latest from the Channel

‘Kuwait’s short 19th century’ by Nathan J. Brown

‘Libya’s constitutional balancing act’ by Sean Kane

‘Will the GCC stay on top?’ by Marc Lynch

    <p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

    More from Foreign Policy

    An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
    An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

    Is Cold War Inevitable?

    A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

    U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
    U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

    So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

    The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

    Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
    Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

    Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

    Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

    Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
    Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

    Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

    Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.