World News Brief, Friday August 20

Last American combat troops leave Iraq, with no government formed – mission accomplished? (+ analysis); Immigration key issue in Australian campaign's final days; Russia's new push into Afghanistan; One million civil servants on strike in South Africa; and more

Top of the Agenda: Last US Combat Troops Leave Iraq

The last US combat brigade left Iraq (BBC) as US President Barack Obama's August 31 deadline for ending combat operations there nears. Some fifty thousand US troops will remain until the end of 2011 to advise Iraqi forces and protect US interests. An additional six thousand support troops will be in Iraq until the end of the month. The task of training the Iraqi police will largely be carried out by contractors. US diplomats in two new outposts will be tasked with diffusing sectarian tensions between the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces (NYT) in northern Iraq. The State Department also plans to more than double its private security guards to as many as seven thousand to protect civilians against al-Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias.

Some officials doubt Obama can fulfill (Reuters) his pledge to draw down all troops by the end of 2011 and that thousands more will be needed. Defense Secretary Robert Gates left the door open to that possibility but stressed that Iraq's new government would first have to ask.


On Stratfor, George Friedman says a crisis may arise if the United States continues to withdraw its remaining fifty thousand troops to the point that Shiite politicians close to Iran feel free to escalate attacks on Sunnis.

This CFR Analysis Brief discusses Obama's defense of the US troop drawdown, and U.S. and Iraqi military officials' pursuit of a longer commitment.

Read President Obama's August 2 remarks on the Iraq drawdown.

Read the US-Iraq Status of Forces agreement.


PACIFIC RIM: Explosion Kills Seven in China's Xinjiang

Chinese police arrested an Uighur suspect (al-Jazeera) for an explosion that killed seven people in China's western region of Xinjiang, which suffered from intense ethnic conflict and separatist violence last year.

Australia: Immigration policy (WSJ) has become an important issue in Australia's election campaign amid a public backlash against a perceived increase in illegal immigration.



- South African Police Clash with Protesters
- Russia Pushes for Afghan Business Ties


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on