President Barack Obama on Oct 12 declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in US history, announcing that all American troops would be withdrawn from the country by year’s end. Obama’s statement put an end to months of wrangling over whether the US would maintain a force in Iraq beyond 2011. He never mentioned the tense and ultimately fruitless negotiations with Iraq over whether to keep several thousand US forces in Iraq as a training force and a hedge against meddling from Iran or other outside forces. Instead, Obama spoke of a promise kept, a new day for a self-reliant Iraq and a focus on building up the economy at home.
Obama spoke after a private video conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, and he offered assurances that the two leaders agreed on the decision. The US military presence in Iraq stands at just under 40,000. All US troops are to exit the country in accordance with a deal struck between the countries in 2008 when George W. Bush was president.
“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,” Obama said. More than 4,400 American military members have been killed since the US and its allies invaded Iraq in March 2003.