United States and Iraq finalize agreement to have troops out of Iraq by 2011

Friday, August 22, 2008

On Friday, an agreement was reached stating that the all of the United States (US) armed forces currently stationed in Iraq would be pulled out by 2011. Mohammed al-Haj Hamoud, the deputy foreign minister of Iraq, stated that the deal has to be signed by both the Iraqi and US governments.

The agreement, which has 27 points, states that all US troops will be out of Iraqi cities by June 2009, and that the forces would be out of Iraq entirely by December 31, 2011. Hamoud stated that the 2011 final withdrawal was still somewhat variable. "There is a provision that says the withdrawal could be done even before 2011 or extended beyond 2011 depending on the [security] situation," said Hamoud. In addition, Hamoud said that some US units might stay past the 2011 final withdrawal date to "to train Iraqi security forces."

Map of Iraq

Hamoud stated that "both the parties have agreed on this...The negotiators' job is done. Now it is up to the leaders." The agreement, according to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who arrived in Iraq on Thursday, is a "very good agreement."

Following Rice's arrival in Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, the Foreign Minister of Iraq, said that "we are very close, we have a text, but not the final agreement. Everything has been addressed."

President George W. Bush is reportedly in support of the agreement, according to US and Iraqi officials. The deal just needs the support of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other members of the Iraqi government, before it appears before the Council of Representatives of Iraq after they reconvene on September 9.

Moqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Shi'a cleric, has been a strong protester of the deal. In the city of Kufa on Friday, one of his supporters stated that "the suspicious agreement means eternal bondage. It violates the Iraqi constitution."

Around 147,000 US troops are on the ground in Iraq at this time. The Iraq War, has been ongoing since March 20, 2003. In the early part of 2007, the US initiated a troop surge into Iraq, which sent a additional 5 US brigades into Iraq, as well as extending the stay of 4,000 Marines already stationed there.