Surprise: Obama pulling all U.S. troops from Iraq by year’s end

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, October 21, 2011 12:44 EDT
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Obama with U.S. troops. AFP
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In a surprise announcement on Friday, President Barack Obama declared a full stop to the U.S. presence in Iraq, telling reporters, “I can say our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”

The announcement was a surprise because many observers expected the White House to leave up to 10,000 support troops behind, and Pentagon officials were pushing for more.

“After a decade of war, the nation we need to build, the nation we will build, is our own,” Obama added.

The announcement was the final crux of an agreement struck by President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in 2008.

While the full withdrawal will be met with jubiliation by many in the U.S. and Iraq, it comes with a price: namely, the as-yet-unknown fee Americans will pay private security contractors tasked with defending the nation’s diplomats.

The State Department has not said how many private contractors will be brought in, but the number could be in the thousands.

Approximately 40,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq today.

Watch this video from CNN’s Newsroom, broadcast Oct. 21, 2011.

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Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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