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.
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