President Obama announced today that the United States will withdraw nearly all of its troops from Iraq by the end of the year, effectively ending a nine-year war that has cost the country more than $800 billion and claimed the lives of over three thousand American soldiers.
"After nearly 9 years, America's war in Iraq will be over," said Obama in a press conference. He added that American troops will depart Iraq "with their heads held high, proud of their success."
"Our troops are finally coming home," he celebrated, claiming that they "will definitely be home for the holidays."
As part of the current drawdown, America has withdrawn nearly 100,000 troops from the Middle East, and only 40,000 non-combat troops remain in Iraq. As part of the final withdrawal, "Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their country's security," enabling the relationship between the US and Iraq to be one of equals, according to Obama.
Beginning in January, "it will be a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect," explained the president.
During a secure conference call this morning, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Obama discussed the move, agreeing "that this is the best way forward for both countries," a White House official said to the Washington Post.
Even after January, a very small number of military personnel will stay in Baghdad and at diplomatic facilities to smooth the transition. These operatives will aid Iraqis in purchasing American weapons systems and other military tasks, though they will not facilitate a long-term training program.