Iraq: After Nearly Nine Years of War and
Occupation, America to Withdraw All Troops
By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via The Nation
Oct 19, 2011 – In a stunning and largely unexpected victory for the American peace movement and Iraqi opponents of the US occupation, virtually all US troops will withdraw from Iraq as scheduled by this December 31.
First reported by the Associated Press on October 16, the US pullout will allow President Obama to keep an important promise, and the Iraqi government to defend its sovereign power.
Remaining behind in Baghdad, however, will be the world’s largest US Embassy, the size of eighty football fields, with some 5,000 staff, including private contractors. There may be some 160 active-duty US soldiers attached to the embassy, according to the AP story. Thousands more US troops will likely be redeployed over the border to Kuwait.
According to the AP account, the Iraqis rejected intense Pentagon lobbying to retain a “residual” force of thousands of US troops. Earlier this year, the Pentagon was insisting on 10,000–15,000 troops at a minimum, a number that was slashed to a slender 3,000–4,000 troop proposal by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta a few weeks ago.
The main sticking point was the US demand for immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts for American troops. The Iraqi Parliament rejected immunity, citing memories of torture at Abu Ghraib and reckless shootings of civilians by American contractors during the conflict.