Obama calls time on America's war in Iraq
President fulfils election pledge declaring that all troops will leave country by end of the year
Declaring that "America's war in Iraq" was at last coming to a conclusion, President Barack Obama yesterday vowed that the last of the US troops would be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year, fulfilling a promise he had made while running for the White House three years ago.
The lifting from Iraqi soil of the last military boots will bring to a close a tortuous nine-year war that has been one of the most controversial in American history. Launched in early 2003 by President George W Bush without clear legal backing from the United Nations but with support from Britain, it damaged the US in the court of world opinion and led to bitter domestic divisions.
The withdrawal will drop a shroud over a conflict that has also cost America dearly in blood and treasure. The bill so far in Iraq has reached $800bn at a time when the US is facing spiralling budget deficits. Meanwhile, more than 4,000 US service members have been killed.
With his announcement, Mr Obama ended speculation that the US would leave a small contingency of up to 5,000 soldiers in Iraq beyond the end of this year, which some in the military hierarchy had argued for to help with training and as a bulwark against Iranian political influence. "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," he told reporters at the White House after a video conference call with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. He said they had both agreed on the withdrawal deadline.
"Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of them, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home," the President said.
"The last American soldier 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 our support for our troops. That is how America's military efforts in Iraq will end."
Mr Obama, who has found himself unable to honour other election promises such as closing Guantanamo Bay, said during his run for office in 2008 that he would wind down the Iraq conflict and focus American energies on Afghanistan, dubbing it the country's "neglected war".
The Iraq conflict was at its bloodiest over the 2006-2007 period in the second term of George W Bush. Fighting began to ease after a surge in troop numbers. The original deal to bring all US troops home – about 40,000 remain in Iraq now – by the end of this year was struck by Mr Bush in 2008. In August 2010, Mr Obama declared the combat phase for US troops was over and those soldiers remaining were primarily on a training mission.
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Lammily: Barbie-like doll hits Kickstarter fundraising target in a day
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world: Singapore named costliest place to live – but what about London?
Oscar Pistorius trial: Neighbour feared athlete would use gun that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to shoot himself
Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
£1000 per month: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a start-up mobile app develo...
£6.31 per hour: Inspiring Interns: This growing predictive analytical software...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education is the largest ed...
£18000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Geoenvir...