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22 Jan, 2009 10:35

The party's over: Obama's first day

Following an emotional inauguration day, President Barack Obama has begun to attack the mountainous in-tray awaiting him in the Oval Office. Topping that list is dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and force a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan,” Obama said.

On his first day in the job, Obama met with his top national security advisers and asked the Pentagon to “execute a responsible military drawdown from Iraq”.

In contrast to his inaugural address, Barack Obama was much more specific about his plans for Iraq throughout his campaign, saying that he hoped to withdraw U.S. troops within 16 months.

After more than five years, pulling the U.S. military machine out of Iraq will be a mammoth task – easier said than done.

Talha Gibriel, Bureau Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper, still wonders why the U.S. went invaded in the first place.

“The situation is very complicated. Tribal situation is very complicated. Religious situation is very complicated…so there is a big question, why the Americans go to Iraq?” he asked.

Bringing home the troops from Iraq was a fundamental Obama campaign promise. It will remain a major focus of those who voted for him.

Aside from the extremely unpopular war in Iraq, Afghanistan topped the day's activity.

With violence in Afghanistan increasing over the past few years, Obama has said that he would like the U.S. to play a greater role in bringing stability to the region.

At a meeting with his national security team, Obama reinforced his commitment to withdrawing from Iraq and improving the situation in Afghanistan. But not everybody believes he can attain these goals.

“The idea that we are going to create in Kabul a pro-American democratic government is a fantasy of course,” said Geopolitical Expert George Friedman.

The outspoken Republican politician Pat Buchanan poured cold water on Obama’s optimism, saying “Afghanistan is where empires go to die.”

While 'failure' has not been a word synonymous with Barack Obama, if he mishandles the situation, his honeymoon may come to a quick close.

Obama re-takes oath of office

On Inauguration Day, Obama stumbled slightly over the oath of office, catching everyone by surprise.

After the mishap was shown on television around the world it was decided that Obama would have another go.

On Wednesday in the Oval Office, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath to Obama without flaw.

“Over all, I think it went relatively smoothly, and I'm very grateful to him,” Obama said.

Obama said he did not have his Bible with him, but that the oath was binding anyway.

The White House said that despite the stumbles, Obama had still been President since noon on Inauguration Day.