|Handover ceremony between U.S. and Iraqi forces in Karbala (United States Forces - Iraq)|
The commander of the 3rd ACR gave a speech at the event, extolling the work of the Karbala PRT, which he claimed had completed 1,126 projects worth $198 million. It had been able to do much of this work in peace as Karbala has been one of the most secure governorates in recent months. For all of 2010, it only averaged 0.3 security incidents per 10,000 people for example. The Americans plan on shutting down all 14 PRTs it has remaining in Iraq by September. This was the first one to be closed, and Karbala is the first governorate to have a full U.S. pull out.
The rest of the U.S. troops are supposed to pick up their withdrawal beginning this summer. All of them are supposed to be out by December 31 unless Baghdad and Washington come to a new agreement to allow some to stay. The Americans are applying pressure to do so, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to open the door for a troop extension by saying that Iraq’s parties will discuss the matter, and if a consensus emerges, parliament will vote on keeping a smaller U.S. military contingent in the country. That’s likely to be a long, drawn out process. Until then, the U.S. will stick to its schedule, and begin shutting down its bases, packing up its equipment, and pulling out as just happened in Karbala.
Aswat al-Iraq, “Karbala: First province to witness complete US Military withdrawal,” 5/14/11
Davis, Aaron, “U.S. in limbo over Iraq troop presence,” Washington Post – Foreign Policy, 5/9/11
Al-Haffar, Hassoun, “U.S. troops pull out of Karbala,” AK News, 5/12/11
Ralston, Sgt. Garrett, “U.S. transfers Karbala base to Iraqi Army,” United States Forces – Iraq, 5/15/11
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 4/30/11