Where: Baghdad, Iraq
June 30, 2009 : A national holiday and a full military parade marked “National Sovereignty Day” as Iraq celebrated the withdrawal of American troops. USA’s troops pulled out of Iraq’s towns and cities, six years after they led coalition forces, including troops from four other countries, into Iraq. The forces invaded Iraq in 2003 to remove the dictator Saddam Hussein, and to destroy weapons of mass destruction, which the country was believed to have developed. Saddam was deposed and executed, but no weapons of mass destruction were discovered. Thousands of lives were lost, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis became refugees. The occupation of Iraq began to be opposed very strongly in the USA itself.
A bilateral security pact was signed in January 2009 by Iraq and the USA to enable withdrawal of troops. According to its terms, all United States combat units must have withdrawn from Iraq’s urban centres and relocated to rural bases by midnight on Tuesday, June 30, 2009. All USA’s troops except for trainers and advisers are to leave Iraq by the end of the year 2011.
The move has been hailed as a big step on the country’s road to self governance. However, the political situation in Iraq remains unsettled. The government in Baghdad continues to be at war with the minority Kurds in the country’s north. A series of bombings by militants earlier in the week, including two of the most violent attacks in over a year, left around 150 people dead. These events have shaken the confidence of Iraqis in their own forces.