Coming off what is perceived to be a foreign policy “victory” in Libya with death of Muammar Gaddafi (although our involvement was both illegal and unjustified), President Barack Obama announced on Friday that the military forces would be leaving Iraq at the end of 2011; following a policy put in place by his predecessor:
President Obama will withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year, ending a long war that deeply divided the country over its origins and the American lives it consumed.
In a Friday morning video conference, Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to a complete U.S. military departure that will fulfill a promise important to Obama’s reelection effort. The decision drew sharp criticism from his Republican rivals, as well as expressions of relieved support from those who believe it is time for the United States to conclude a war Obama once called “dumb.”
For months, U.S. and Iraqi officials had been negotiating the terms of an accord that would have kept several thousand U.S. troops in Iraq for special operations and training beyond the year-end deadline set by the George W. Bush administration.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, officials have revealed that ongoing talks will hopefully lead to a withdrawal of US troops by October 2010.
The proposed agreement calls for Americans to hand over parts of Baghdad’s Green Zone — where the U.S. Embassy is located — to the Iraqis by the end of 2008.
U.S. acceptance — even tentatively — of a specific timeline would represent a dramatic reversal of American policy in place since the war began in March 2003.
Both Iraqi and American officials agreed that the deal is not final and that a major unresolved issue is the U.S. demand for immunity for U.S. soldiers from prosecution under Iraqi law.