*****Iraq celebrates U.S. withdrawal officially Today at 2:12 pm
Join date: 2011-05-19
Baghdad, Dec.2 (AKnews)- During a ceremony in the heavily fortified Green Zone of Baghdad yesterday the Iraqi and U.S. senior officials marked the end of the U.S. combat troops mission in Iraq, eight years past the fall of Saddam Hussein regime.
The U.S. which led the invasion against former regime in 2003, signed the State of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq in 2008. Under the agreement the U.S. should have completely pulled out its combat troops from the country by end of this year. However, the two countries may extend cooperation in industry, technology, health, education and culture.
Speaking at the ceremony, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani dubbed April. 9, 2003, the starting point of U.S. led war "the day of terminating oppression and dictatorship of the former regime."
He added instead of using the resources of Iraq in the development of the economy, the former regime harnessed them for purchasing weapons and launching wars with neighbors at the expense of turning Iraq an "unpopular" state at international level.
Overthrowing the former regime "was a difficult mission but the support of the allies [coalition forces], in particular the U.S. friends helped in terminating the oppression in Iraq," the president said.
He noted "the U.S. and Iraqi army exerted too much effort, due to which work on what had been devastated in the past years was launched."
Mr. Talabani added the Iraqi army and police will endeavor to ensure the security "and we rely on the foreign trainers to support our security forces."
While there are many parties who oppose the U.S. present in the country at any form, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has obtained the approval of the political bloc leaders to introduce the U.S. trainers to the country after the U.S. army withdraws.
The issue is still disputed. The size of the training force is not fixed yet. Besides, the U.S. is striving to ensure legal immunity for the force- a privilege that almost all the blocs have refused to grant.
Iraqi PM hailed the U.S. withdrawal "a historic victory."
Mr. Maliki said "today the promise of the complete withdrawal of forces of our friends is met, therefore, we should plan for the success of this pull out and out the interest of Iraqi above all the flags."
Once more in the ceremony, the PM blamed supporters of Baath for depriving Iraq of enjoying its sovereignty.
"The annulled Baath party takes the whole responsibility for Iraqi's lack of sovereignty since the 1990s… After the pull out [of U.S. forces] the covers of al-Qaeda organization, the ousted regime and the terrorist cells will be removed and the withdrawal process will disclose all the parties that were hiding behind the foreigners who interfered in Iraq."
The U.S. Vice President Joe Biden who was also present at the ceremony extended his thanks to the Iraqi senior officials and the troops from his country.
"Today the war in Iraq is over….Our relation with Iraq focused on security but today it will extend to cooperation in broad fields." He said.
"Truth is everlasting, but our ideas about truth are changeable. Only a little of the first fruits of wisdom, only a few fragments of the boundless heights and depths of truth, have I been able to gather"