Iraqis Burn U.S. Flags To Celebrate Troop Pullout
December 14, 2011 - 8:08pm
FALLUJAH, Iraq — Hundreds of Iraqis set alight US and Israeli flags on Wednesday as they celebrated the impending pullout of American forces from the country in the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah.
Shouting slogans in support of the “resistance,” the demonstrators held up banners and placards inscribed with phrases like, “Now we are free” and “Fallujah is the flame of the resistance.”
Surrounded by the Iraqi army, demonstrators carried posters bearing photos of apparent insurgents, faces covered and carrying weapons.
They also held up pictures of US soldiers killed and military vehicles destroyed in the two major offensives against the city in 2004.
“We are proud to have driven the occupier out of Iraq, at the cost of enormous sacrifice,” said Khalid al-Alwa, the local leader of the Islamic Party, a Sunni Muslim grouping.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who made an election promise to bring troops home, told Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that Washington will remain a loyal partner after the last troops roll across the Kuwaiti border.
MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran.
During town-hall-style meetings with military personnel in Asia [in October], the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta, noted that the United States had 40,000 troops in the region, including 23,000 in Kuwait, though the bulk of those serve as logistical support for the forces in Iraq.
That "region" count does not include Afghanistan, where by the end of 2012 after his drawdown Obama will have only twice as many troops in Afghanistan as were there on the day he was inaugurated.