The US flag was lowered in Baghdad on Thursday, formally marking the end of US military operations in Iraq after nearly nine years of war.
"The situation in Iraq has improved a great deal. We are entering a new phase and one of the key challenges for the government is to address the security of the people and country. The key task is to maintain the national political consensus that established the new regime in Iraq."
- Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister
The last American troops are expected to leave the country within days, by December 31.
US troop numbers peaked at around 170,000 during the so-called surge strategy in 2007, but as of this week only about 5,500 remained.
Many of them have already left for bases in Kuwait prior to flying home. The last combat troops departed Iraq in August of last year.
However, a small contingent of some 200 soldiers will remain in Iraq as advisors, while some 15,000 US personnel are now based at the US embassy in Baghdad, which is by far, the largest in the world.
In this episode, we ask: Are Iraqi security forces ready to deal with a country ravaged by war and sectarian strife? And what are the challenges ahead?
Inside Story, with presenter Divya Gopalan, talks with Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, about the cost of the war for Iraqis and what the future holds for the war-torn country.