On New Year’s Day the ‘keys’ to the Green Zone will be the responsibility of the Iraqi government. The United States will keep troops in the nation but only because Iraq is allowing that to happen. From now on they are in charge.
Baghdad’s palace has been occupied by the United States since 2003. That was before today. At the stroke of midnight the palace is back under Iraqi authority.
On January 1 the 140,000 strong United States force in Iraq will no longer be sanctioned by the United Nations. From this point on the U.S. troops in Iraq are there with authority granted by the iraqi government itself.
The pact between Iraq and the U.S. requires that the troops are gone in three more years. No longer with the U.S. be allowed to hold Iraqis without charges. Contractors from the U.S. and off-duty troops will be living under Iraqi law, not under the laws of the military.
British troops have also made a pact with Iraq. Their troops have until the end of July to depart. Other NATO alliance troops will also vacate during 2009.
In the past few weeks U.S. diplomats have been moving from the palace to new digs. A newly-built compound, the largest U.S. embassy will now be home.