Iraqi political crisis as US completes pullout

American troops are gone, and a political crisis shows Iraq's old divisions may prove stronger than its fledgling institutions.
The U.S. Army cross into Kuwait as the last convoy pulls out of Iraq Dec. 18, 2011. (SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters)

BAGHDAD - The American military is gone. In the dark hours of Sunday morning the last U.S. troops in Iraq left Camp Adder - now known as Imam Ali Airbase - and crossed a flood-lit berm lined with barbed wire at the Kuwait border.

With the completion of the U.S. withdrawal, the rifts in Iraq's polity are widening, and the seismic tremors are coming bigger and sooner than many anticipated. Leaders are still struggling to define the basic shape of the state, and many people are reacting to the uncertainty by seeking refuge and strength in ethnic and sectarian identities.

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