Friday, 21 October 2011

Iraq war over, US troops coming home, Obama says APBy BEN FELLER - AP White House Correspondent | AP – 3 hrs ago 25 3 Email Print Related Content FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2010 file photo, members of 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., walk toward a C-17 aircraft at Sather Air Base in Baghdad as they begin their journey home after a year in Baghdad, Iraq. President Barack Obama on Friday Oct. 21, 2011 declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history, announcing that all American troops would be withdrawn from the country by year's end.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File) FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2010 file photo, members of 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, … President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, where he declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history, announcing that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the country by year's end. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, … U.S. slideshows Exotic animal survivors held at zoo 3 photos - Thu, Oct 20, 2011 Alexa Meade photos imitate paintings 16 photos - 8 hrs ago News Corp. protests 8 photos - 12 hrs ago See latest photos » WASHINGTON (AP) — America's long and deeply unpopular war in Iraq will be over by year's end and all U.S. troops "''will definitely be home for the holidays," President Barack Obama declared Friday. Stretching more than eight years, the war cost the United States heavily: More than 4,400 members of the military have been killed, and more than 32,000 have been wounded. The final exit date was sealed after months of intensive talks between Washington and Baghdad failed to reach agreement on conditions for leaving several thousand U.S. troops in Iraq as a training force. The U.S. also had been interested in keeping a small force to help the Iraqis deal with possible Iranian meddling. The task now is to speed the pullout of the remaining U.S. forces, nearly 40,000 in number. Staying behind in Iraq, where bombings and other violence still occur, will be some 150-200 U.S. military troops as part of embassy security, the defense attaché's office and the office of security cooperation. That's common practice but still a danger to American forces. Obama, an opponent of the war since before he took office, nevertheless praised the efforts of U.S. troops in Iraq. He said American soldiers would leave "with their heads held high, proud of their success." For Obama, Friday's announcement capped a remarkable two days of national security successes, though there's no indication how much they will matter to re-election voters more concerned with economic woes at home. On Thursday, the president heralded the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and a day later the end to one of the most divisive conflicts in U.S. history. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the U.S. more than $1.3 trillion. Obama did not declare victory. He did speak, though, about the string of wins on his watch — none bigger than the killing of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Afghanistan war still rages, but there, too, Obama has moved to end the combat mission by the end of 2014. This was, in essence, the third time Obama had pronounced an end to the war, allowing him to remind the nation he had opposed it all along — a stance that helped his White House bid in 2008. Shortly after taking office, Obama declared in February 2009 that the combat mission in Iraq would end by Aug. 31, 2010. And when that milestone arrived, he said it was "time to turn the page" on Iraq and put the focus back on building up the United States. On Friday, he said: "After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over." The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched in March of 2003 after reports, later discredited, that the country was developing weapons of mass destruction. By early April, American Marines were helping Iraqis pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Saddam was captured in December of that year and executed in 2006, but the war dragged on. The ending was set in motion before Obama took office. In 2008, President George W. Bush approved a deal calling for all U.S. forces to withdraw by Dec. 31, 2011. At issue was whether that deal would be renegotiated to keep thousands of U.S. forces in Iraq. The Obama administration and Iraqi government spent months debating whether the United States would keep troops to maintain a training force, to provide added stability in a country where spectacular attacks still occur, and to serve as a hedge against Iran. Throughout the talks, Iraqi leaders refused to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, and the Americans refused to stay without that guarantee. Obama never mentioned that issue on Friday. He said that after speaking with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, both were in agreement on how to move forward. Obama said the two nations will now deal with each other in the normal fashion of sovereign countries and will keep open the idea of how the United States might help train and equip Iraqi forces. "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. "The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing the American people stand united in our support for our troops." The Associated Press first reported last week that the United States would not keep troops in Iraq past the year-end withdrawal deadline, except for some soldiers attached to the U.S. Embassy. "Both countries achieved their goals," said Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Moussawi. "Iraq wanted full sovereignty while the United States wanted its soldiers back home, and both goals are achieved." In addition to remaining military forces, Denis McDonough, White House deputy national security adviser, said the U.S. will have 4,000 to 5,000 contractors to provide security for American diplomats. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States will now "turn our full attention to pursuing a long-term strategic partnership with Iraq based on mutual interests and mutual respect." He said the goal is to establish a relationship with Iraq similar to other countries in the region. "Iraq is a sovereign nation that must determine how to secure its own future," Panetta said. Obama's announcement was applauded by congressional Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who called it "the right decision at the right time." Republicans were more skeptical. Many praised the gains made in Iraq and gave Obama at least partial credit but expressed concern that getting troops out would bring that progress into question. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he feared that "all we have worked for, fought for and sacrificed for is very much in jeopardy by today's announcement. I hope I am wrong and the president is right, but I fear this decision has set in motion events that will come back to haunt our country." GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney accused Obama of an "astonishing failure" to secure an orderly transition in Iraq, and said, "The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government." The U.S. said repeatedly this year it would entertain an offer from the Iraqis to have a small force stay behind, and the Iraqis said they would like American military help. But as the year wore on and the number of American troops that Washington was suggesting could stay behind dropped, it became increasingly clear that a U.S. troop presence was not a sure thing. The issue of legal protection for the Americans was the deal-breaker. But administration officials said they feel confident that Iraqi security forces are well prepared to take the lead in their country. McDonough said that one assessment after another of the preparedness of Iraqi forces concluded that "these guys are ready; these guys are capable; these guys are proven; importantly, they're proven because they've been tested in a lot of the kinds of threats that they're going to see going forward." The president used the war statement to once again turn attention back to the economy, the domestic concern that is expected to determine whether he wins re-election. "After a decade of war," he said, "the nation that we need to build and the nation that we will build is our own." __ Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Jim Kuhnhenn, Erica Werner and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this story. @yahoonews on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook Editors' Picks A riot police officer tries to extinguish the fire of a petrol bomb on another officer during riots with anti-austerity demonstrators in Athens' Syntagma (Constitution) squareslideshow Petrol bomb attack on Greek police Hannibal Gaddafislideshow Gadhafi family on the run FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 file photo, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gestures with a green cane as he takes his seat behind bulletproof glass for a military parade in Green Square, Tripoli, Libya. Libyan special forces stormed a two-day-old protest encampment in the country's second largest city of Benghazi, clearing the area early Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011, said witnesses, as a human rights group estimate scores of people have died in the harsh crackdown on days of demonstrations. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)slideshow Libyan dictator Gadhafi killed Libyans celebrate Moammar Gadhafi's death in front of the Libyan Embassy in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled Libya with a dictatorial grip for 42 years until he was ousted by his own people in an uprising that turned into a bloody civil war, was killed Thursday when revolutionary forces overwhelmed his hometown, Sirte, the last major bastion of resistance two months after his regime fell. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)slideshow Libyans celebrate Gadhafi's death 1slideshow Captain Scott's lost photographs Detective Rick Lee talks to a pedestrian in Zuccotti Park in New York, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. Lee is gaining Internet fame for his un-stereotypical appearance. Online blog posts make tongue-in-cheek references to him as the "Hipster Cop." His look includes cardigans, professorial-style glasses and side-swept hair. The plainclothes officer has been doing community affairs work at the protest. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)slideshow Occupy Wall Street's hipster cop Explore Related Content 1 - 4 of 12 Iraq troop withdrawal bitter sweet for Spokane womanPlay Video Iraq troop withdrawal bitter sweet for … President Barack Obama concludes his remarks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, where he declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most ... President Barack Obama concludes his … Panetta Hopeful of Iraqi Deal on US … Panetta hopeful of striking deal with Iraq to keep US troops there as trainers … Full Story »Panetta Hopeful of Iraqi Deal on US Troops ABC News (RSS) Obama: 'Our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays'Play Video Obama: 'Our troops in Iraq will definitely … Top Stories » TV: Saudi crown prince dies abroad after illness Iraq war over, US troops coming home, Obama says Gadhafi put on display in shopping center freezer Murdoch takes on shareholders at annual meeting Clinton visiting Tajikistan, Uzbekistan Thai PM says floods may last for 6 more weeks Cain tweaks 9-9-9 tax plan to allow exemptions Most Popular Some stores freezing out Ben & Jerry's new flavor Obama announces total Iraq troop withdrawal For $1 billion, one dictator Steve Jobs predicted Obama would be a one-term president Gadhafi was looks-conscious until the end Qadhafi death blunts GOP's critique Today on Yahoo! 1 - 4 of 41 Christina Aguilera's alarming attire Christina Aguilera's alarming attire Some stores shun new Ben & Jerry's flavor Some stores shun new Ben & Jerry's flavor Gadhafi's last act of vanity revealed Gadhafi's last act of vanity revealed Saudi crown prince dies after illness Saudi crown prince dies after illness All Comments Shared On Facebook My Comments Zubaida • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia • Show location? HelpComment Guidelines your avatar Please Enter a Comment Manage Updates Your updates will be shared through Yahoo! Updates based on your preferences. Start sharing your updates on Yahoo! to Twitter based on your preferences. Add Twitter Your update will be shared to Facebook based on your Facebook preferences. 465 comments Popular Now Newest Oldest Most Replied pynaetlb 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 pynaetlb 8 seconds ago Report Abuse Hurray!! Iran wins. You libs can be real proud of yourselves. You put an anti-American Muslim loving a$$hole in office and he's made the deaths of thousands of American soldiers meaningless. When Iran takes over Iraq and starts giving the world a whole new set of big problems, it's all on you and... More Reply frederick 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 frederick • Cape Girardeau, United States • 36 seconds ago Report Abuse Looks to me like we have dealt with plenty of terrorists recently... how about doing something about the domestic terrorists that are silently wrecking our country from within by renting our politicians? Reply Barney Fyfe 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 Barney Fyfe • Dallas, United States • 37 seconds ago Report Abuse Thank you, about time! Reply Reegan 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 Reegan • Waite Park, United States • 57 seconds ago Report Abuse I have a feeling we are gearing up for Yemen or Iran or Uganda or Syria.... It never really ends.. Reply Think 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 Think about a minute ago Report Abuse It's all political deception. The withdrawn troops will be replaced by private U.S, security contractors which will cost us some major dollars. Obama's administration is largely fascist, not socialist. A socialist supports government ownership of a service(in this case the military), a fascist... More Reply concerned citizen 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 concerned citizen about a minute ago Report Abuse this is simply a political stunt to win votes. Obozo is desperate so he would rather give Iraq to Iran than lose an election Reply Mary 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 Mary • Tampa, United States • about a minute ago Report Abuse The most important issue Americans don't face now: The $75 trillion worth of derivatives that the Federal Reserve wants YOU to backstop. Go ahead, google "Bank of America $75 trillion derivatives Federal Reserve" and just read what comes up. Bloomberg, Huffington Post, but hasn't hit mainstream... More Reply warningsign 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 warningsign • Cobleskill, United States • 2 minutes ago Report Abuse I wish this announcement was completely true. But the article states that 4000 to 5000 "contractors" will still be in Iraq to provide "security" to American diplomats. Huh??? 4000 to 5000??? Along with predator drones, mercentary contractors are one of the new ways our country conducts warfare... More Reply concerned citizen 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 concerned citizen 2 minutes ago Report Abuse yahoo, why do I need to post my location? Are you big brother? copy and past guys, screw giving up your location Reply bruce 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 bruce 2 minutes ago Report Abuse Sen. Lindsey Graham please take your fat arss over there and keep watch if it's what you want maybe take a couple of you children with you. Reply OHIGAN 1Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 OHIGAN 2 minutes ago Report Abuse Awesome! Halliburton is giving us permission to withdraw from Iraq. I guess they need a few months to rest and resupply for when we invade Iran. BTW- Since we went to Afghanistan first doesn't that mean we should be out of there already?? Reply frederick 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 frederick • Cape Girardeau, United States • 2 minutes ago Report Abuse With the way Obama is effectively meeting out justice to potential and confirmed terrorist threats and handling foriegn dictators with raw efficiency I have to wonder just how much good he might do handling domestic affairs for average Americans if certain parties and the special interests who rent... More Reply rk 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 rk 2 minutes ago Report Abuse Obama's buddies in Turkey are already stirring the pot to get the Iraqis to ask us to stay. Reply Raymond 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down1 Raymond 3 minutes ago Report Abuse A day late and a dollar short barry sotero aka obama the american people never wanted your illegal unconstitutional sick wars in the first place. This wont help you get another 4 years blowing our tax money and giving it to foreign banks. Impeach this criminal already and give back that nobel peace... More Reply dream 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 dream 3 minutes ago Report Abuse wonderful! many of these soldiers will face unemployment. then obama will be voted out of the white house. just like the first bush. when he brought back the troops after desert storm then got booted out by an unknown Arkansan. history just keep repeating itself. Reply Spider 3Thumbs UpThumbs Down0 Spider 3 minutes ago Report Abuse Our Troops are coming home? I blame the Democrats! Reply WEINERCRAT 2Thumbs UpThumbs Down2 WEINERCRAT • Dallas, United States • 3 minutes ago Report Abuse he also claimed that navy seals team 6 was dick cheneys assasin hit sqaud until it took out obama bin lying then he claims it as on his watch.he must have one of those mickey mouse watches Reply G 1Thumbs UpThumbs Down2 G 3 minutes ago Report Abuse But I thought our peace loving President was sending them to Iran, Uganda and where ever else trouble might be brewing................ kinda like the Romans of days gone bye Reply I Didn't Vote For Him 0Thumbs UpThumbs Down1 I Didn't Vote For Him 3 minutes ago Report Abuse Thank you George Bush for bringing our troops home as you promised you would... "The ending was set in motion before Obama took office. In 2008, President George W. Bush approved a deal calling for all U.S. forces to withdraw by Dec. 31, 2011." Reply HM3 Doc USN 2Thumbs UpThumbs Down2 HM3 Doc USN • Pine Grove, United States • 3 minutes ago Report Abuse There is no doubt in my mind that the motivation for his decision is based wanting to raise his approval rating more than doing what is militarily the right decision. Reply More Post a comment New: Location! You can now share your location with each comment and make it more interesting. 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