New gigantic US embassy opens in Baghdad
While George Bush’s Iraqi mission ended with shoe flinging, Obama’s record in Iraq started on a good note with the opening of a brand new American embassy in Baghdad. High-ranked US officials and Iraqi president were in attendance at the opening of the embassy. On January 1st, US government handed over the control of the Green Zone in Central Baghdad to Iraqi forces in accordance with the pullout agreement. The new embassy was constructed at a whopping $700 million cost and has the size of 80 football fields.
The compound is one of the biggest and most expensive embassies the US has ever built, and was opened amid heavy security in the Iraqi capital.
On 1 January the US officially handed over responsibility for security in the fortified Green Zone to Iraqi forces.
The US also gave back Saddam Hussein's palace there, which had been their headquarters in the city.
The new complex, which will house a total of 4,000 staff, has been built with security very much in mind, says the BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Baghdad.
The opening ceremony was led by Ambassador Ryan Crocker and attended by US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
Mr Talabani thanked the US for helping to create a democratic Iraq "which will serve as a model for other peoples of the eastern world", Reuters news agency reported.
"Iraq has now assumed the lead for all security operations and our bilateral relationship going forward will be governed" by the agreements, Ryan Crocker, US ambassador to Iraq, said.
"Iraq is in a new era and so is the Iraqi-US relationship."
US diplomats and military officials moved into the embassy, which at 42 hectares is the size of 80 football fields, on December 31 after vacating Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace, which they occupied after capturing Baghdad in April 2003.
Twitter had many posts of people wondering if the construction of such a grand embassy is a good use of US taxpayers’ money.
Sweetnote: US Spending $592M on a new Embassy Building In Iraq....ARE YOU KIDDING ME
davidmacdougall: wonders if US tax-payers think $700 million was a good price for their new Baghdad embassy?
BondGyrl: New US embassy opens in Baghdad. It has a pool and tennis courts. Seems a bit excessive no?
salam: New US embassy in Baghdad opened today. The size of the Vatican City and it sounds like it's cost as much to build :)