News / USA

Obama: All US Troops Out of Iraq by Year End

President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington to address the status of U.S. forces in Iraq, October 21, 2011.
President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington to address the status of U.S. forces in Iraq, October 21, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio

President Barack Obama announced on Friday that all U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year. The announcement came after months of negotiations with the Iraqi government on extending a U.S. troop presence there.

In a video conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Obama said he reaffirmed that the United States keeps its commitments, while Maliki spoke of the Iraqi people's determination to forge their own future.

The president said he had fulfilled a pledge he made as a presidential candidate to bring the Iraq war to a responsible end.

"Today I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over," said Obama.

He declared a formal end to the U.S. combat mission in Iraq last year. From a high of about 165,000 troops five years ago, about 39,000 troops remain. A U.S.-Iraqi agreement in 2008 set December 31 of this year as the date for complete withdrawal.

Between 2003 and this year, nearly 4,500 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq with some 32,000 wounded. Iraqi civilian deaths from years of sectarian conflict exceed 100,000, much higher by other estimates. At least 10,000 Iraqi soldiers also were killed in this conflict.

The U.S. and Iraq negotiated over a possible extension of the U.S. military presence, amid concerns about undermining progress as Iraqi forces assumed full security responsibilities.

Obama said the two countries now move to "a normal relationship," with U.S. civilians and diplomats in the lead, and discussions continuing about training and equipping of Iraqi forces.

White House officials said Iraqi forces have shown themselves to be increasingly competent and capable. Officials estimate that 4,000 to 5,000 private contractors will be providing security for U.S. diplomats and other personnel.

Though the White House notes that violence in Iraq has decreased 10 fold since a high point in the middle of the last decade, bombings and other attacks have continued on an almost daily basis.   

Obama said Iraq still faces some tough days to come.

"There will be some difficult days ahead for Iraq, and the United States will continue to have an interest in an Iraq that is stable, secure and self-reliant," said the president.

The president made a point of saying the U.S. insists that other nations respect Iraq's sovereignty, seen as a reference to concerns about expanded Iranian influence in Iraq.   

Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, who recently was in Iraq, said the U.S. is confident in the ability of a sovereign Iraq to stand up for itself.

"We don't have concerns about our ability to make sure the Iraqis can exercise the kind of sovereignty that they want," said McDonough.

Democrats in Congress issued statements praising Obama for fulfilling his pledge to bring a long and difficult conflict to an end.  

Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner praised American troops, and the leadership of both President Obama and President George W. Bush for freeing Iraq from "a vicious tyrant" and ending a violent terrorist insurgency.

But Boehner said he remains concerned that a full withdrawal could jeopardize security gains.

Republican Senator John McCain called the decision a harmful and sad setback for the United States, saying it will be viewed as a strategic victory for U.S. enemies in the Middle East, especially Iran's government.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid