The arrival of the new year in Iraq has been accompanied by a number of attacks that have left many dead across the country. Recent days have seen targeted killings of Iraqi police and armed forces, U.S. military personnel, as well as continued attacks against Iraq’s Christian minority.
Nouri Al Maliki stated in a recent Washington Post interview that the U.S. troop deadline would not be pushed back, as many had predicted it would. However, as NPR reports, there is a likelihood that some U.S. military personnel would be retained in the United States Embassy in Baghdad:
James Jeffrey, the American ambassador to Iraq, says what could happen is that some U.S. military personnel — namely, officers and trainers — would remain in Iraq under the auspices of the embassy. This is already the case in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and elsewhere.
Jeffrey says that from the American perspective, at least, this would be perfectly legal.
El Cajon, California is one of the larger centers of Iraqi culture in the United States, and its population of Iraqis is steadily growing:
El Cajon, about 15 miles east of San Diego, has become home to the second-largest Iraqi population in the United States, after Detroit, since the U.S. government began resettling Iraqis here in 2007. Just four years ago, Spanish was the dominant language in store windows along Main Street. Now, Arabic words advertise markets specializing in Middle Eastern meats and pastries, and restaurant signs beckon with the words “Babylon,” “Ali Baba” and “kebab,” prompting locals to dub the area “Little Baghdad.”
The article closes with a poignant comment by a local pastor who is reflecting on the difficult circumstances facing Iraqis:
“They were dreaming about paradise in America, and they don’t have mattresses to sleep on.”