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President Barack Obama announced on Friday that all U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year.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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid