2009 Year in Review
Major World News Stories of 2009
Presidential Election Marred by Fraud in Afghanistan | President of Honduras Overthrown in Coup | Opposition Protests Presidential Election in Iran | Peace Remains Elusive for Israelis and Palestinians | Taliban Gains Strength in Pakistan
U.S. Diminishes Its Role in Iraq
Despite sporadic violence and suicide attacks, Iraq began to show signs in 2009 that it was moving toward independence and on track to manage its own security and governance. The progress in Iraq coincided with the United States' diminishing presence and influence there.
On New Year's Day, the Iraqi government took control of the Green Zone, the heavily fortified area that houses the offices and homes of most American and Iraqi government officials. On January 31, local elections were held to create provincial councils. The elections were notable for their lack of violence and the limited role the U.S. played in their implementation. The optimism that followed the elections was dampened, however, when months after the elections, several provinces had yet to select governors and council leaders.
Obama Follows Through on Campaign Promise to Withdraw from Iraq
From the first days of his presidency, Barack Obama followed up on his campaign promise to end the war in Iraq. In fact, the day after his inauguration, Obama instructed his national security team to begin preparing for "a responsible military drawdown from Iraq." In February, Obama announced his intention to withdraw most American troops from Iraq by the end of the summer of 2010. "Let me say this as plainly as I can," he said. "By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end." As many as 50,000 troops, however, will remain there for smaller missions and to train Iraqi soldiers.
On June 30, in compliance with the status of forces agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, U.S. troops completed their withdrawal from Iraqi cities and transferred responsibility of securing the population centers to Iraqi troops. Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki declared June 30 a new public holiday, "National Sovereignty Day." The number of suicide bombings had increased in the weeks leading up to the U.S. withdrawal of troops, which raised doubts about the timing of the drawdown.
Obama's plan to continue withdrawal of U.S. combat troops is contingent upon successful parliamentary elections in February 2010. The run-up to the election was anything but smooth. After missing several deadlines, Parliament passed an election law in December. And on December 8, five bombs killed at least 120 people at or near government buildings in Baghdad. The Islamic State of Iraq al-Qaeda took responsibility for the attack. Authorities suspected that the Sunni insurgents were attempting to discourage cooperation between Shia and Sunnis and to destablize the country in the weeks leading up to the election.
For more information on the state of Iraq in 2009:
- More from 2009 News of the World