Latest Update News About Austin American Statesman, Kvue Weather, Kvue, Kxan, Dove World Outreach Centre: The day before President Barack Obama is scheduled to address the nation about the changing mission in Iraq, members of several anti-war groups gathered in Killeen with their own message. Tuesday officially marks the end of combat operations in Iraq. On Sept. 1, the end of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” brings the start of “Operation New Dawn”.
Ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline, troop levels have been reduced from 144,000 in the country at the beginning of the year to 50,000. The role of U.S. forces will also change, as they serve as more of a training, support and security function than one of combat.
However, for those like Dahlia Wasfi, the changes do not go far enough. Wasfi is an Iraqi-American activist who travels the country sharing her opposition to the war in Iraq.
According to Wasfi, she lived in Iraq as a young child and still has relatives who she communicates with in Iraq.
“I speak as an American, very unhappy with how my tax dollars are being spent, but I have family in Iraq, so I try, they have had no voice under 30 years of dictatorship and they continue to have no voice under occupation,” she said.
She believes it is time for all U.S. troops to leave the country.
“We really have pulled the rug from under Iraq,” she said. “It will take decades, if not generations for Iraq to recover.”
Wasfi was not alone, as State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, called for troops to be pulled out.
“When Sen. Barack Obama was running for president, I’m one of those people who embraced him and thought he would end the war,” Burnam said. “A year and a half into his administration, we realized that we have a continuation in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Burnam stressed the financial and human toll of the past seven years in Iraq.
“It’s time to stop the bleeding of our budget, as well as the bleeding of our military personnel,” he said.
According to Wasfi, certain aspects of life for the Iraqi people have gotten worse compared to the life they led before Saddam Hussein was removed from power.
“As far as infrastructure, health care, education, and security, Iraqis look back now, and know ,as bad as they were, those are now the good old days,” she said.
Even though Wasfi said she could not predict what would happen in Iraq once all U.S. forces leave in Dec. 2011, she said if the past is any indication, she remains confident about the future.
“As the cradle of civilization, I know that Iraqis can rebuild as they have in the past from previous occupations,” she said.
President Obama is scheduled to make a stop at Fort Bliss to address soldiers Tuesday. Following the visit, he is scheduled to make a primetime Oval Office speech to the nation on the new mission in Iraq.