WASHINGTON (RNN) – President Barack Obama announced Friday the end of the war in Iraq, bringing to a close the armed conflict that has lasted nearly nine years.
“The U.S. is moving forward from a position of strength,” Obama said. “The long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year.”
As the war draws to a close, Obama said that the nation’s roughly 45,000 troops will leave the Middle Eastern nation before the new year.
“Across America, our service men and women will be reunited with their families,” Obama said. “Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”
The president assured that Iraq had taken full responsibility for its security. From now on, he said, the relationship between the U.S. and Iraq will be a “normal relationship between sovereign nations.”
During his speech from the White House briefing room, Obama spoke of new trade, commerce, culture and education ties between the U.S. and Iraq, which will “unleash the potential of the Iraqi people.”
Obama said the U.S. will ask other nations to respect the sovereignty of Iraq. It will also continue discussions on how to help Iraq train and equip its forces.
“This will be a strong and enduring partnership,” he said.
Friday’s announcement fulfills a long-standing campaign promise from Obama, which will likely intensify the upcoming 2012 presidential election.
“As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end,” Obama reminded Americans at the beginning of his speech.
The president said he had, to this point, cut in half the number of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“And make no mistake: It will continue to go down,” Obama said.
The announcement also fulfilled an existing agreement between the U.S. and Iraq to have troops removed before year’s end.
Only a negligible number of troops will remain in Iraq after withdrawal – about 150 left behind to help with weapons sales, according to CNN.
CNN also reports that the U.S. had hoped to leave more troops to help with security and training issues. However, talks broke down after a diplomatic cable alleging that U.S. troops had killed Iraqi children and other civilians was released by WikiLeaks.
As a result, Iraq has refused to grant legal immunity to U.S. troops, CNN reported.
The war in Iraq began on March 20, 2003. Nearly 1 million troops have served in the war, which has claimed the lives of nearly 4,500 U.S. troops.
Obama said he was proud of the success of all of American troops, saying it was now time to enlist returning troops to a new focus: Jobs.
“After a decade of war, the nation that we need to build – and the nation that we will build – is our own,” Obama said.
However, the Senate killed a version of Obama’s jobs bills Thursday, for the second time in two weeks.
By. Joseph Neese,
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