July 1, 2009
The New York Times

U.S. Withdrawal From Iraqi Cities Marked by Holiday

by Alissa J. Rubin

Iraq declared a public holiday Tuesday to celebrate the official withdrawal of American troops from Iraqi cities and towns, emptying the streets as many people stayed home because they feared violence. . . .

In most respects it was an artificial day of sovereignty since more than 120,000 American troops remain on Iraqi soil and in most other respects Iraq already has its sovereignty. There were no official documents signed between the two countries and no handover of authority on Tuesday. All that had been done months ago. . . .

The vast majority of American troops had withdrawn prior to June 30 and closed down their urban bases, in some cases several weeks ago. They have moved to large forward operating bases. Only a handful of urban outposts in Baghdad, requested by the Iraqi authorities, remain open. . . .

Ordinary Iraqis were more skeptical. "There is no doubt this is not national sovereignty because the Americans will stay inside Iraq in military bases," said Najim Salim, 40, a teacher in Basra. "But the Government wants to convince the citizens that there is a withdrawal of foreign troops, although the Government could not protect citizens in some cities in Iraq even with the presence of U.S. forces."


Editorial: "The Road Home," New York Times, July 8, 2007

Patrick Cockburn, "Revealed: Secret Plan to Keep Iraq Under U.S. Control," Independent, June 5, 2008

Patrick Cockburn, "Oil Giants Return To Iraq," Independent, June 20, 2008

"U.S. Tactics Exacerbate Sectarian Tensions in Iraq," The Wisdom Fund, February 1, 2009

[U.S. military commanders have said they are preparing for an Iraq presence for another 15-20 years, the U.S. embassy is the size of Vatican City, there is no official plan for the withdrawal of contractors and new corporate mercenary contracts are being awarded.--Jeremy Scahill, "Iraq's 'National Sovereignty Day' is US-Style 'Hallmark' Hype,", July 2, 2009

[In less than a month, the Iraqi people may vote on the validity of the security pact, which permits the continuing US presence in Iraq. If Iraqis reject the pact, the US would be required to withdraw from the country within a year, speeding the deadline to July 30, 2010, unless a new deal is negotiated before then. And according to Kate Gould, legislative program assistant for foreign policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), the negotiation of a new bilateral agreement seems unlikely.--Maya Schenwar, "Iraq's 'National Sovereignty Day' is US-Style 'Hallmark' Hype,", July 2, 2009]

[We have passed the June 30 deadline that, according to a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on November 17, 2008, was the date all US forces were to have been withdrawn from all of Iraq's cities. Today, however, there are at least 134,000 US soldiers in Iraq - a number barely lower than the number that were there in 2003. In addition, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified on June 9 that the United States would maintain an average of at least 100,000 troops in Iraq through fiscal year 2010.

The SOFA is a sieve, and the number of US military personnel in Iraq is remaining largely intact for now. Add to the 134,000 US soldiers almost the exact number of military contractors (132,610 and increasing)--Dahr Jamail, "US Occupation of Iraq Continues Unabated,", July 6, 2009]

[Baghdad survives now as a city defined not by its thousands of years of history, but rather segregation brought on by policies of deliberate ethnic cleansing.--Scott Ritter, "So This Is What Victory Looks Like?,", July 7, 2009]

[All the features of classic colonialism took shape in the Bush years in Iraq and are now, as far as we can tell, being continued, in some cases even strengthened, in the early months of the Obama era.--Michael Schwartz, "The US takes to the shadows in Iraq," Asia Times, July 11, 2009]

[Iraqi troops and police carried out a bloody raid Tuesday on the camp of an Iranian opposition group that the United States has long sheltered, marking the Iraqi government's boldest move since it declared its sovereignty a month ago and offering the latest sign that American influence is waning as Iranian clout rises.--Ernesto Londono and Greg Jaffe, "Iraq Raids Camp of Exiles From Iran," Washington Post, July 29, 2009]

[While Iraqi and US government officials continue to insist the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq is currently on schedule, only a few thousand US troops have left Iraq since Obama took office, and few, if any, are expected to be withdrawn through the beginning of 2010.--Dahr Jamail, "Iraq as 'Actor and Stakeholder',", July 29, 2009]

Salam Faraj, "Iraqi death toll down in July after US handover," AFP, August 1, 2009

Priya Satia, "Brilliant insights that led us astray in Iraq," Financial Times, August 4, 2009

[When Iraq's Parliament ratified its security pact with the US last year, allowing the presence of US troops until the end of 2011, it built in a provision for a public referendum vote to take place. . . . The vote, scheduled to take place by July 30, never happened.--Maya Schenwar, "Postponing Iraqi Public Opinion,", August 5, 2009]

[Between now and August 2010, a force of 130,000 U.S. troops is expected to shrink to no more than 50,000; the civilian contractor corps, also 130,000 strong, will be pared to no more than 75,000. And of the nearly 200 bases under American control, only six major hubs and a couple of dozen smaller bases will remain by the end of next summer--Ernesto Londono, "High-Stakes Opening and Closing Roles for a U.S. General in Iraq," Washington Post, August 14, 2009]

Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizher, "Iraqi parliament passes election law after reaching deal on Kirkuk," Washington Post, November 9, 2009

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