The Iraqi government says it is confident its military is ready to completely take over from US soldiers by the end of 2011. It has welcomed the US President’s Iraqi withdrawal timetable, while Baghdad residents have also been giving their reactions.
One man said: “Iraqis are relieved because we’re heading towards complete independence. The pullout of US troops means complete independence for the Iraqi people.” Another man said: “America’s not able to finish the war from a military point of view. It’s a way to relieve Iraqis and it’s also for Americans who want achievement from their government. The pullout represents their failure in Iraq.” US combat soldiers will leave by the end of August next year. But up to 50,000 troops will stay on until the end of 2011 to act as a transition force. The size of that force has dismayed many US politicians, including senior figures in Obama’s own party. However, the president is remaining steadfast. Obama said: “There will be more danger in the months ahead. We will face new tests and unforeseen trials. But thanks to the sacrifices of those who have served, we have forged hard-earned progress, we are leaving Iraq to its people and we have begun the work of ending this war.” But while Obama was applauded by US soldiers, some Iraqi politicians say they are not happy that a complete pullout is almost three years away.