President Obama announced Friday that American troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year as planned, and that the “long war in Iraq” will come to an end.
“Our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays,” he said.
Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their security, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has spoken of the determination of the Iraqi people to forge their own future, the president said in an address from the White House.
“Today I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year,” he said. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”
The president said his decision fulfills his campaign promise to end the war and, later, his declaration to withdraw troops by the end of 2011. He said he spoke with al-Maliki earlier in the day about the decision.
Troops in Iraq. Photo by Ahmad Al-Rubaye /AFP/Getty Images.
About 45,000 troops are currently in Iraq. A Status of Forces Agreement, issued in 2008, mandates U.S. troops leave by Dec. 31, but the United States had been negotiating with Iraq to keep a smaller contingent of a few thousand troops in the country. However, talks reportedly broke down over the issue of immunity of U.S. forces from Iraqi prosecution.
President Obama said the United States is moving into a new phase of the relationship with Iraq — an equal partnership between two sovereign nations based on mutual respect. “This will be a strong and enduring partnership,” he said.
He went on to say that the United States would continue discussions with Iraq on helping train and equip its forces, as it does with other countries.
The U.S.-led invasion began March 19, 2003, and by April 9 had toppled the regime under Saddam Hussein. More than 4,400 U.S. service members have died in the conflict, according to the Associated Press.
Watch an Aug. 16 NewsHour discussion on what recent violence in Iraq means for the troop drawdown: