Obama Promises to Pull All U.S. Troops Out of Iraq by 2012

President Barack Obama said Friday that the last American soldier would leave Iraq by the end of the year.

Mr. Obama promises the beginning of a new era in the relationships with Iraq. Photo: The Official White House

At the conference on Friday Mr. Obama announced that he is going to withdraw all the U.S. troops from Iraq. The president also said on January 1, 2012 new era for the United States and Iraq would begin:  “a normal relationship between two sovereign nations, and equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

Obama noticed that he intended to keep his promise he had given before he occupied the Oval Office:  “Being a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. So today I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. “

It was arranged before that American’s detached forces will exit Iraq by the end of the year and remain 3,000 to 5,000 troops in Iraq in different posts (At the peak of U.S. involvement in 2006, there were 170,000 soldiers on the ground).

But Pentagon asked the Iraqi Parliament to grant immunity from legal prosecution to the troops if they would remain. American negotiators in Baghdad decided that it would be impossible to obtain that immunity not to leave any chance of the troop presence in Iraq next year.

It was said that the president intended to leave about 3,000 troops on the Iraq’s territory, but that some in his administration feared such a small number of soldiers would be enough equipped to handle the missions they were supposed to assign.

During the video-conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Mr. Obama told him about the decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of the year.

The U.S. president appeared to leave the possibility of further negotiations on the question of military trainers. “As I told Prime Minister Maliki, we will continue discussions on how we might help Iraq train and equip its forces — again, just as we offer training and assistance to countries around the world,” he said.

“After all, 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.

The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success and knowing that the American people stand united in their support for our troops,” the president said. “That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”

“During their conversation, President Obama and P.M. Maliki strongly agreed that this is the best way forward for both countries,” said the representative of the White House.

The role of the U.S. military in Iraq has been reduced to advising the security forces in a country where levels of violence had declined sharply from a peak of sectarian strife in 2006-2007, but attacks remain a daily occurrence.

Senior Iraqis say in private they would like a U.S. troop presence to keep the peace between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds in a dispute over who controls oil-rich areas in the north of Iraq.

It was counted that since the start of the war in March of 2003 about 4,400 American soldiers were killed and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians’ lives were lost. “The war had cost the U.S. $806 billion,” said the official. [via The New York Times]

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