2011 World News: Iraq
U.S. to Withdraw Completely from Iraq
by Beth Rowen
Arab Spring Creates Tumult in the Middle East | European Nations Battered by Euro Debt Crisis | Osama bin Laden Killed in Pakistan | Advances in Iran's Nuclear Program Lead to Additional Sanctions | Hope for Peace Fades for Israelis and Palestinians | Pakistan's Relationship with U.S. Steadily Deteriorates | Earthquake in Japan Causes Wide Destruction and a Nuclear Disaster | World Population Reaches a New Milestone | Phone-Hacking Scandal a Major Embarrassment for Media Mogul Murdoch | Parliamentary Elections Spark Massive Anti-Kremlin Protests in Russia | Prince William and Kate Middleton Marry in a Lavish Royal Wedding | North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Dies
On December 15, 2011, the U.S.-led war in Iraq officially ended. The war, launched in March 2003 based on faulty evidence of weapons of mass destruction and a dubious connection to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, lasted nearly nine years, killed more than 4,440 U.S. troops, and cost about $1 trillion.
As the U.S. was making plans to withdraw troops from Iraq in late summer and fall, the ongoing insurgent activity in the country cast doubt on the long-term security of the region. This uncertainty was highlighted on Aug. 15, 2011, when insurgents launched more than 40 coordinated attacks throughout the country, mostly on civilians. A total of 89 people died and more than 300 were wounded in the violence, which came in the form of suicide attacks, car bombs, and gunfire. Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia took credit for the attacks, saying they were retribution for the killing of Osama bin Laden. The lethality of the incursions made it clear that Iraq is far from secure and remains a hotbed of terrorist activity.
Obama Changes Plan for Drawdown of Troops
In outlining his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, President Obama had planned to keep about 5,000 troops in the country as advisers and trainers, but he reversed the decision in late October when Iraq said the remaining troops would not be given immunity from Iraqi law. About 150 members of the Defense Department staff will remain in Iraq to maintain the security of the U.S. Embassy and the oversee the sale of military equipment to Iraq. In addition, the CIA will maintain a presence in the country.
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