President Obama announced today the withdrawal of the 39,000 remaining American troops in Iraq by year’s end. The announcement comes after Obama failed to reach an agreement with the Iraqi government that would’ve left thousands of troops there for special operations and training, the Washington Post reports.
The end to negotiations could be dangerous for a country still divided by sect and ethnicity, the WaPo reports. Should any violence follow the troop withdrawal, Obama could be blamed for “abandoning” Iraq prematurely.
“After a decade of war, the nation that we need to build and the nation that we will build is our own,” Obama said in a speech Friday afternoon that lasted only minutes.
Discussions dating back to August began to unravel in recent weeks. Iraqi leaders refused to grant immunity to U.S. troops who stayed past the Dec. 31 deadline. But Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said immunity was a necessary ingredient if troops were to stay in the country. U.S. officials were looking into other options, like training outside Iraq borders, but one factional leader said a full withdrawal must come first and that “oppressed” Iraqis must be compensated before training begins.
Politically, Obama’s 2012 campaign will now be able to say he followed through on his promise to end this conflict.
The only troops that will remain as 2012 begins are 150 to protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
In its nine years, the War in Iraq has cost the U.S. nearly $1 trillion and more than 4,400 lives. In his address, Obama focused on the peril “our newest veterans” will face coming home.