President Barack Obama has confirmed that he will withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, the Washington Post is reporting. The withdrawal will end a nine-year war that has left Americans divided.
The announcement came on October 21, when Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared in a video conference. They agreed to complete the U.S. military departure, which plays an important promise in Obama’s reelection effort. The decision drew support from those opposed to the war, as well as sharp criticism from Obama’s Republican rivals.
The decision to withdraw the troops comes after U.S. and Iraqi officials negotiated for months over the terms of an accord that would have kept thousands of American troops in Iraq for special operations and training. But Obama and Maliki never reached an agreement on the legal status of U.S. troops who would stay in Iraq after December 31.
As a result, less than 200 Marines will remain in Iraq to guard the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad. A small number of troops will also remain to provide training to new military sales and other tasks.
Republicans oppose the withdrawal of the troops, because if violence breaks out after the U.S. troops leave, America will likely be blamed for abandoning Iraq before it was ready to defend itself. But Obama based his 2008 campaign on his opposition of the war, which has cost the U.S. nearly $1 trillion and more than 4,400 American lives.
Written by: Karen Benardello