The President of the United States announced today from the press briefing room, that all American fighting forces will be out of Iraq by December 31, 2011. “After nine years, the US war in Iraq will be over”, President Obama stated and then hurried off the stage, taking no questions from the press. This marks a truly definitive date of withdrawal for the troops in Iraq, which was a controversial promise he made during the campaign of 2008.
Many in the State and Defense departments wanted to extended the presence of troops (albeit a small amount) into the next year, but insisted that they continue to enjoy immunity from prosecution in Iraq. This was rejected by the Iraqi government and Prime Minister al-Maliqi.
The announcing of the timetable for withdrawal raises questions of whether the Iraqi military and police forces are fully prepared to defend the fledgling freedom again Al-Qaeda and other insurrectionist groups. Anti-democratic forces are likely to take advantage of the deadline to launch a new offensive in the country. Only time will see if Iraq is ready to stand on its own two feet.