The Iraqi parliament has voted to accept a deal on the future presence of US troops in the country.
The decision, praised by US President George Bush, means US troops will leave Iraqi streets by mid-2009 and will quit Iraq entirely by the end of 2011.
But I do wonder what the Americans will do about all those vastly expensive military bases in Iraq, such as this one:
The U.S. military base in Balad, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, is rapidly becoming one of the largest American military installations on foreign soil.
About 40,000 troops, contractors and Defense Department civilian employees live there.
The base is one giant construction project, with new roads, sidewalks, and structures going up across this 16-square-mile fortress in the center of Iraq, all with an eye toward the next few decades.
Balad Air Base is now the headquarters for an Air Force Expeditionary Wing; billions of dollars are being spent on upgrades at the base.
Then there is the enormous US embassy in Baghdad:
A new embassy, which has been referred to as Fortress America, is currently under construction in the Green Zone of Baghdad. The compound will comprise 21 buildings on 104 acres (42 ha), making it the largest and most expensive U.S. embassy in the world.
It is to be located along the Tigris river, west of the Arbataash Tamuz bridge, and facing Al Kindi street to the north. The embassy is to be a permanent structure, relieving the 5,500 Americans currently working from the Republican Palace and living in housing scattered across the Green Zone. The US government has kept many aspects of the project under wraps, with many details released only in a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report.
Apart from the 1,000 regular employees, up to 3,000 additional staff members will be hired, such as security personnel.
But who am I to question if the Americans are really leaving?