President Obama announced a full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year, a decision he said fulfills a campaign promise to bring the war to a responsible end.
“After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by 2011. As commander-in-chief, ensuring the success of this strategy is one of my highest national security priorities,” he said Friday, addressing the White House press corps.Just hours earlier, Obama had spoken to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki via videoconference and reported that the two are in “full agreement about how to move forward.”
Over the next two months, the approximately 46,000 troops who remain in Iraq will come home, Obama said.
“After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” he said.
“Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays. This December will be a time to reflect on all that we’ve been through in this war,” he later added.
The announcement also marked a milestone in the relationship between Iraq and the United States. As of Jan. 1, each country will deal with one another as independent sovereign nations in keeping with the the U.S.-Iraqi strategic framework agreement.
“It will be a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama said.
Obama also paid tribute to the more than one million Americans who have served in Iraq, those who returned wounded, and the more than 4,000 who lost their lives.
“The tide of war is receding,” he said. “When I took office, roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in both these wars, and by the end of this year that number will be cut in half — and make no mistake, it will continue to go down.”