Obama: America’s mission in Iraq complete

US President Barack Obama has announced the full withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, commending them for completing their nine-year stay in the country “with honor.” But critics maintain that there is much more to the story.

­Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki in the Oval Office in Washington on Monday, Obama said the US’ war in Iraq will come to an end this December, with the final remaining American troops shipping out of the country by December 31.

This is a season of homecomings," Mr. Obama said Monday at the White House, flanked by al-Maliki. "Military families across America are being reunited for the holidays."

The two leaders met to discuss the new phase in relations between their countries. Obama assured the Iraqi PM that the US will remain “a strong, enduring partner” for Baghdad.

Al-Maliki, in his turn, said Iraq had established a democratic political process and "is following a foreign policy in which it does not interfere in the affairs of others, and does not allow others to intervene in its own."

Rendering the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq as a “historic moment,” Obama said the troops were leaving with “heads held high.” The US forces leave behind a “sovereign” and “self-reliant” Iraq, he added.

But Brian Becker, a director at the ANSWER coalition, told RT that America’s nine years in Iraq will be remembered as time of “great crimes and tragedies.”

More than hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died; five million were made into refugees," Becker says. "The country was shredded. A formally united country was divided along ethno-sectarian lines, and now the US is leaving … but not paying reparations for its crimes.”

What the US is leaving behind is an embassy the world has never seen, remarks Becker. The American Embassy in central Baghdad has a staff of 16,000, with 8,000 hired as a private army. The State Department budget for such an operation could top $25 billion for the next five years.

Experts note that while Obama has kept his promise to end the war in Iraq, the US is leaving without assurances that Baghdad can maintain security and order in the country – or build a firm political system.

Jacob Hornberger, founder of the Future of Freedom Foundation, believes the US has imposed a dictatorship that just “happens to be democratically elected” on the Iraqi people.

You’ve got a regime that is dictatorial in every sense of the word,” Hornberger told RT. “And there are people there who are never going to accept a regime that came into existence compliments of a foreign empire that … invaded without any cause.”

Hornberger says that since Washington is interested in maintaining a close relationship with Baghdad, "they are already doing what they do with all those other dictatorships in the Middle East – starting to furnish them with armaments, weaponry.”

However, he warned of the possibility that Iraq could align itself with Iran, something both Saddam Hussein and the US avoided at all costs.