Obama: Troops in Iraq Will Be Home for Holidays


President Barack Obama on Friday 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the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history, announcing that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the country by year’s end.

“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,” Obama said.

“Today I can say that troops in Iraq will be home for the holidays.”

Iraq Benchmarks Lagging

As The Associated Press reports:

The White House told Congress today that Iraqi leaders gained little new ground on key military and political goals, a discouraging assessment a day after President Bush said progress justifies a large continued U.S. military presence there.

The report underscored the difficulty of Bush’s argument that a continuing American sacrifice was creating space for Iraqi leaders to make gains on tamping down the sectarian fighting that leaves Iraq persistently fractured and violent.

The administration’s first required report on benchmarks, in July, showed the Iraqi government was making satisfactory progress toward meeting eight of 18 goals and unsatisfactory progress on eight others. Two others couldn’t be rated for performance.

Today’s follow-up report to Congress concluded Iraqis have done enough to move only one benchmark – allowing former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to hold government positions – from the unsatisfactory to satisfactory column.

That movement was due to a pact made last month among leading Iraqi politicians from all major sects. Iraqi officials have announced similar deals in the past only to have them fall apart.