Embassy Controversy Overshadows Handover of Last US Base To Iraq

With the Iraq War officially over and the last U.S. base in Iraqi hands, the focus now turns to the country’s post-war relationship with the United States. Meanwhile, demonstrations in Diyala province forced the closure of a border entry point with Iran. Also, at least three Iraqis were killed and nine more were wounded in the latest attacks.

The most visible — and controversial — symbol of the new relationship between Iraq and the United States is the new embassy compound where a $1 billion police-training program is being implemented. The Iraqis do not believe they need the help, and many in the United States think the program and the $3.8 billion it will cost to run the embassy in the first year alone are huge wastes of taxpayer money. Separately, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta confirmed that Predator drones based in Turkey will be permitted to fly mission over Iraq after the new year.

Disturbances in Khanaqin lead to the closure of the international border at Kheswari, which is a popular route for visiting pilgrims. A bid to make Diyala a semi-autonomous province trigged the demonstrations. For Khanaqin this could mean the heavily Kurdish district would be given to Iraqi Kurdistan in exchange for political support. It is unclear which side the demonstrators are favoring.

In Baghdad, gunmen targeted the convoy of B.O.C. spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi but instead wounded a bystander. A car bomb killed a civilian and wounded four more in Amil. Hundreds of demonstrators called for the expulsion of Camp Ashraf residents at the end of the year.

In Kirkuk, a student was killed in a sticky bomb blast that also wounded a bystander. Gunmen wounded a former intelligence agent.

In Mosul, a security officer was killed during a home invasion. No one was hurt when gunshots were fired at a lawmaker’s home.

A bomb wounded two people in Falluja.

Fourteen suspects were arrested near Tikrit.

In Dhi Qar province, 21 suspects were detained.

Five suspects were captured near Hilla.

Twenty-five suspects were rounded-up after the discovery of bodies belonging to three government workers yesterday in Dhuluiya.

In Jbela, five suspects were arrested in a "proactive measure" ahead of next month’s Arbaeen observances.

Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.