Out of Iraq by Year’s End

The remaining 40,000 US troops serving in Iraq will be “home for the holidays,” announced President Obama. “As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” said Obama Oct. 21, following a discussion with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki earlier that day. “We will now turn our full attention to pursuing a long-term strategic partnership with Iraq based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a statement. He added, “Our goal will be to establish a normal relationship similar to others in the region that focuses on meeting security and training needs.” Talks with the Iraqis over keeping US troops in Iraq for longer faltered over Iraqi opposition to granting US troops legal immunity from Iraqi prosecution, reported the Associated Press, citing al Maliki. About 160 US troops will work at the US embassy in Baghdad after year’s end to help oversee training support, a set-up consistent with other US embassies, according to AP. (White House blog entry) (AFPS report by Jim Garamone) (See also our initial coverage.)

Congressional response:

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, statement

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), SASC ranking member, statement

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman, statement

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), HASC ranking member, statement