US begins withdrawal from Iraq + timeline; Iran elections confirmed as Ahmadinejad increases vote; record unemployment in Japan; Taliban abandons peace deal; and more
Top of the Agenda: U.S. Troops Leave Iraqi Cities
After more than six years of combat the American military officially left Iraqi cities (Aswat al-Iraq), relinquishing security responsibilities to Iraq's security forces. The departure, long anticipated, was met with celebration and fireworks in Baghdad (WashPost); Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki marked the occasion by declaring the day a national holiday-National Sovereignty Day. In total, 150 American bases across Iraq have been dismantled or placed under Iraqi control.
The New York Times reports that U.S. soldiers leave at a time of complex contradictions in Iraq. In most cities American soldiers essentially stopped engaging in fighting months ago, as schools have reopened, roads are packed, even sewage that once flowed through city streets in is gone. But sectarian tensions still linger just below the surface. "Right now we are balanced on a knife's edge," one Sunni resident of Baghdad told the paper. "We do not like the Americans, but we also thank God when we see them with the Iraqi Army, because we know we can trust them more than the government forces." The BBC reports four U.S. soldiers were killed in combat hours before the deadline.
- This CFR Backgrounder explains the U.S.-Iraq security agreements.
- Explore the six-year-long Iraq war with this timeline.
- CFR's Stephen Biddle explores options for maintaining the peace in Iraq.
PACIFIC RIM: Record Unemployment in Japan
The ratio of job offers to seekers has reached an all-time low in Japan, and officials there believe the trend is only likely to worsen (Asahi Shimbun). With just forty-four openings per one-hundred potential employees, the unemployment rate is the highest since January 1963.
South Korea: The economy of South Korea, meanwhile, is expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.9 percent between 2011 and 2017, according to a new economic outlook (Chosun Ilbo).
Election Results Certified in Iran
Peace Deal Scrapped in Pakistan