Obama just gave a briefing in the press room announcing the full withdrawal of American troops from Iraq by the end of the year. There are currently 41,000 troops in Iraq.
“As promised the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of year. After nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”
Obama says Iraq and the U.S. “are moving into a new phase. It will be a normal relationship between sovereign nations…. This will be a strong and enduring partnership…. we’ll help Iraqis strengthen institutions that are just, representative, and accountable.”
Obama said he would continue discussions with Iraq PM about how to continue training Iraqi troops. The White House later notes that 4-5000 private security contractors will stay in Iraq after troop withdrawal.
Obama also says that the drawdown reflects bigger changes: “Tide of war is receding.”
Obama says after troops come home, fewer deployments and more time training will improve military. Also, notes that returning troops will help with national jobs problem: “Our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”
After the briefing Obama did not take questions; as he left, reporters shouted questions about Iran, which he did not address during the remarks.
So, in terms of the upcoming election Obama can now campaign on the fact he ended the war in Iraq.
On th other hand, as NBC’s Richard Engel noted, Iraq is now on its own and “the American training wheels are off” and they are suddenly very susceptible to Iran.
Video of the President’s remarks below.
ABC News’ Jake Tapper just tweeted that at 12:45 President Obama “will announce complete drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq to zero by end of 2011.”
In 2008 Obama campaigned on the promise he would end the Iraq War.
Last summer Obama announced the end of combat operations in Iraq, however, 50,000 troops remained behind at that time to train Iraqi forces and protect U.S. interests.
At the time Obama promised to have all troops out by the end of 2011, keeping the timeline that President George W. Bush has negotiated with Iraq in 2008.
Iraq had hoped to keep them longer and reportedly the Obama administration had also wanted to keep a presence there, in large part to counteract the influence of Iran. However, according to some reports, Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki refused to guarantee American troops in the country immunity and the deal to leave some troops in the country reportedly fell apart over that detail.
Fox’s Ed Henry notes that earlier this week Sen. John McCain said that a full drawdown would be a “victory for the Iranians.” So that gives you a sense of how the GOP is going to play this news.
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