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President Barack Obama has announced a plan to remove all United States soldiers currently in Iraq by December 31 of this year.
“Across America, our servicemen and women will be reunited with their families,” Obama said when he announced the plan on Friday. “Today I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”
The U.S has occupied Iraq since 2003 when the Bush administration launched “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” The somewhat unrealistic goal was to set up democracy in Iraq and establish a self-supporting oil industry and social liberation.
According to npr.org the United States and Iraq have been under negotiations since 2008 and leaders in Iraq had hoped to keep several thousand U.S troops in the country for military training purposes. However, negotiations could not be reached as to the status of immunity from Iraqi laws for the U.S military personnel.
The BBC reports “Many Iraqis are sensitive about the issue, given the number of civilian shootings involving US troops since the US-led invasion. Private contractors have already lost their immunity.”
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not popular among the American people and President Obama was not in support of the wars and made his intentions to remove troops from the Middle East clear when he first ran for president.
“After a decade of war we are turning the page and moving forward,” Obama said in his weekly address.
Even though the plan for Iraq is to remove all troops, U.S forces are still on the ground in Afghanistan. According to CBS news the 33,000 troops Obama sent to Afghanistan will begin to return home in September of next year.
Despite the large number of troops leaving Afghanistan, 5000 over the summer and another 5000 by 2012, there will still be a surplus of 70,000 troops left in the country.
An issue is being raised because of the timeframe the soldiers are scheduled to depart Afghanistan. The bulk of the troops are supposed to leave during the spring and summer of 2012. However, this period of the year is known as the Afghanistan “fighting season,” an outbreak of brutal and violent conflicts between insurgents, NATO, soldiers and the Taliban.
“During the summertime and especially during Ramadan the Taliban step up their efforts and attacks. During the winter not much occurs because it is too cold,” said an anonymous U.S solider currently serving in Afghanistan.
All soldiers serving in Iraq should be home by the end of the year and those in Afghanistan to follow later in 2012 according to a statement by President Obama. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”