U.S. Troops Heading Home

H. Allam/MCT

Sara Duplancic

After seven and a half years of U.S. military occupation in Iraq, American troops finally slated to come home

The United States’ seven-year occupation of Iraq is officially over as of Sept. 1, 2010. President Obama, in an Aug. 31 Oval Office address, formally discontinued U.S. combat operations. However, the official end of combat does not mean an official end to U.S. involvement in Iraq, nor does it mean that the war is won.

The Iraqi government in Baghdad held a celebration to mark their new liberty as National Sovereignty Day. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki declared Iraq “sovereign and independent” seven and a half years after U.S. occupation began.

The visible changes taking place in Iraq between now and 2011 include a drastic reduction in the number of U.S. military personnel, an influx of diplomats and an overall shift from military to civilian U.S. engagement in the country.

As the focus shifts from Iraq to Afghanistan, President Obama announced a reinforcement and relocation of troops to Afghanistan. Obama noted in his address that the pullout from urban areas is a pivotal step toward the eventual withdrawal of all 131,000 U.S. troops by the end of 2011.

But what won’t change may be more important. Fifty thousand troops will remain through 2011, to direct the Iraqi military and police forces on security issues and counterinsurgency. Iraq will still be somewhat paralyzed by a sectarian conflict among the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds.

The Iraqi Parliament, which has been unable to select a national government since last March’s national election, will remain helplessly deadlocked. And the U.S.’s approach to the beleaguered nation’s political, economic, and social issues will most likely not change.

In addition to the news of the relocation of Iraqi troops,  President Obama awarded 11 Purple Heart honors to brave soldiers who suffered casualties in battle.

Since Obama’s Aug. 31 address, violence in Iraq has not ceased. The war will have long lasting effects, although the Iraqis are trying to curb violent attacks, such as roadside bombings. Unnerving outbreaks like these and bloodshed still continue and it is likely that Iraqis will experience many more years of turmoil and violence before reaching peace.