Iraq kicks US troops out of the country

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
President Obama announced this afternoon that US troops will finally be out of Iraq by the year’s end.

Though this had been the president’s plan since he first campaigned for office, until the very last moment US diplomats and leading military officials tried to ink a secret plan that would allow Americans to stay in Iraq for years to come.

"After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over," President Obama announced this afternoon from the White House in Washington DC.

To many, the move comes too little, too late — with 4,400 Americans killed in Iraq since the war began under President George W Bush; some top-brass at the Pentagon have insisted only months earlier, however, that a withdrawal in 2011 might not be wise.

Commenting on the planned withdrawal earlier this year, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he own message to troops in Iraq was that Americans “just be present in some areas where they still need help.”

Meanwhile, America tried inking a deal with Iraq that would grant US troops immunity for war crimes overseas that would lend to ongoing military presence into 2012, despite the president’s initial campaign promise to withdraw troops as soon as possible. Obama today says that the move to withdraw is with “full agreement about how to move forward” from both countries, but also comes after Iraq was unwilling to extend powers to the American military that would put them above the law.

Bottom line: Iraq told Obama to get out.

The US and Iraq had debated keeping residual forces overseas long after the proposed withdrawal would take place, but with no guarantee over the legal loopholes US servicemen would be granted, a full removal of troops will occur by January 1, 2012, says Obama today.

As recently as April of this year, Secretary Gates told reporters, "I think there is interest in having a continuing presence,” but noted that it would come to whether or not Iraq would want American military men to stay. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise then that, following a video conference with Iraq prime minister Nouri al-Maliki this morning, Obama announced his plans to end the operation.

According to Iraq Body Count, 100,000 civilians have been killed in the eight-plus years of the war. Fiscally, it costs America over $800 billion.