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Iraq Reclaims Sovereignty

By January 1, 2009

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U.S. forces and a statue of Saddam Hussien in Iraq

2003: U.S. forces and
a statue of Saddam
Hussien in Iraq
Photo: Getty/Khuzaie

The start of 2009 marks a big change for the American role in Iraq. While midnight rang in January 1, a small ceremony played out inside a former Saddam Hussein palace in Baghdad. The United States handed over control of Iraqi airspace and the Green Zone to the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki under the terms of the new "status of forces" agreement between the two countries.

The Washington Post wrote:

"On January 1, we are going to control this," Adnan Karim, 22, an Iraqi soldier manning a checkpoint at one of the entrances to the Green Zone, said, beaming. "The U.S. will be here just as observers. It's a matter of pride."
In honor of these developments, Al-Maliki says he will propose January 1 as a national holiday to commemorate "Sovereignty Day."


Update: Just days after the above ceremony, the United States opened its new embassy in Baghdad. According to this report from Foreign Policy Passport, the new embassy is 6 times larger than the United Nations complex in New York... and 10 times larger than the (now) second largest U.S. embassy (which is in Beijing).


January 6, 2009 at 11:47 am
(1) leedurhamstone says:

I’m not privy to any inside information, nor have I read anything about long-term plans that the U.S. has in the Middle East, but it seems obvious with the size of the new embassy that the U.S. plans to have a permanent presence in Iraq.
The geographic position of Iraq in the Middle East makes it strategically critical in the region. The location of Iraq–bordering Iran, on the Gulf, and close to Israel–has always been part of the thinking of American policy makers. Add in the reality of oil supplies and routes and it becomes clear that Iraq will continue to be an important part of American foreign policy. The new embassy shows this.

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