We turn the page..

President Obama formally brought an end to US combat operations in Iraq last night,

seven years and 165 days after the invasion began.

This terrible war has cost us 4,425 military deaths, over 32,000 wounded

and almost 1 trillion dollars spent to date, and it was also a war that divided 

our country.

For Iraq, the exact death toll is unknown, although there are some estimates

of over 1,455,000 deaths, many were victims of this war.

The war caused a nationalist uprising, sectarian violence, and the presence of a jihadist

surge that was attracted by our military presence.

In addition over 2,255,000 Iraqis were displaced inside Iraq,

with an estimated 2.1 to 2.25 million Iraqi refugees now living in Syria & Jordan.

The number of US troops in Iraq has dropped from a high of 170,000

in 2007 to 50,000, whose mission changes from today from combat

to assisting the Iraqi army.

All 50,000 are scheduled to leave by the end of next year, unless

the Iraqi government requests a few hundred or few thousand remain behind.

The mission at that point will change, from combat to one that deals primarily

with training Iraqi forces, supporting the Iraqi government

and engaging in counter-terrorism.

Around 1.5 million US men and women have served in a war

that in 2003 President Bush promised would be short.

We will be leaving behind 1.2m pieces of equipment in Iraq.

That is down to 3.4m pieces in 2009, with bases reduction from 457 to 94.

However as of today, there are just two U.S. bases and about 4,000

U.S. troops in Iraq, a dramatic drop from the roughly 500 military

installations and as many as 170,000 troops during the surge

ordered by President George W. Bush when violence and raging

sectarianism gripped the country.

Our President has met his campaign promise but with the ongoing violence

in Iraq and the failure of Iraqi politicians to create a coalition government

six months after elections this is no victory.

We must avoid the premature triumphalism that came to haunt our former

President George W. Bush, whose "Mission Accomplished" banner

in May 2003, only weeks after the invasion, was often replayed at each

fresh outbreak of violence.

Our President also said in his speech last night, "Ending this war is not only

in Iraq's interest – it is in our own.

The US has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people.

We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq,

and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home ...

Now, it is time to turn the page."

The American people couldn't agree more.

Make it a unified día!

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