Transcript: President Barack Obama’s remarks on the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq
Transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks on the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq
President Barack Obama:
“Good afternoon, everyone.
“When I took office, nearly 150,000 American troops were deployed in Iraq, and I pledged to end this war responsibly. Today, only several thousand troops remain there and more are coming home everyday.
“This is a season of homecomings and military families all across America are being reunited for the holidays. In the coming days, the last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq with honor and with their heads held high. After nearly nine years, our war with Iraq ends this month.
“Today I’m proud to welcome Prime Minister Maliki, the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq. We’re here to mark the end of this war, to honor the sacrifices of all those who made this day possible, and to turn the page to begin a new chapter in the history between our countries – a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect.
“Iraq faces great challenges, but today reflects the impressive progress that the Iraqis have made. Millions have cast their ballots, some risking or giving their lives to vote in free elections. The prime minister leads Iraq’s most inclusive government yet. Iraqis are working to build institutions that are efficient and independent and transparent.
“Economically, Iraq continues to invest in their infrastructure and development. I think it’s worth considering some remarkable statistics. In the coming years, it’s estimated that Iraq’s economy will grow even faster than China’s or India’s. With oil production rising, Iraq is on track to once again be one of the region’s leading oil producers.
“With respect to security, Iraqi forces have been in the lead for the better part of three years – patrolling the streets, dismantling militias, conducting counter-terrorism operations. Today, despite continued attacks by those who seek to derail Iraq’s progress, violence remains at record lows.
“Mr. Prime Minister, that’s a tribute to your leadership and the skills and sacrifices of the Iraqi forces.
“Across the region, Iraq is forging new ties and commerce with its neighbors, and Iraq is assuming its rightful place among the community of nations.
“For the first time in two decades, Iraq is scheduled to host the next Arab League summit, and what a powerful message that will send throughout the Arab world. People throughout the region will see a new Iraq that’s determining its own destiny – a country in which people from different religious sects and ethnicities can resolve their differences peacefully through the democratic process.
“Mr. Prime Minister, as we end this war and as Iraq faces its future, the Iraqi people must know that you will not stand alone. You have a strong and enduring partner in the United States of America.
“So today the prime minister and I are reaffirming our common vision of a long-term partnership between our nations. This is in keeping with our Strategic Framework Agreement, and it will be like the close relationship that we have with other sovereign nations. Simply put, we are building a comprehensive partnership.
“Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve said that Iraqis seek democracy, ‘a state of citizens and not sects.’ So we’re partnering to strengthen the institutions upon which Iraq’s democracies depend – free elections, a vibrant press, a strong civil society, professional police and law enforcement that uphold the rule of law, an independent judiciary that delivers justice fairly, and transparent institutions that serve all Iraqis.
“We’re partnering to expand our trade and commerce. We’ll make it easier for our businesses to export and innovate together. We’ll share our experiences in agriculture and health care. We’ll work together to develop Iraq’s energy sector, even as the Iraqi economy diversifies. We’ll deepen Iraq’s integration into the global economy.
“We’re partnering to expand the ties between our citizens, especially our young people. Through efforts like the Fulbright Program, we’re welcoming more Iraqi students and future leaders of America to study and form friendships that will define our nations together for generations to come. And we’ll forge more collaborations in areas like science and technology.
“We’ll partner for our shared security. Mr. Prime Minister, we’ve discussed how the United States could help Iraq train and equip its forces, not by stationing American troops there or with U.S. bases in Iraq – those days are over – but rather the kind of training and assistance we offer to other countries. Given the challenges that we face together in a rapidly changing region, we also agree to establish a new formal channel of communication between our national security advisors.
“And finally, we’re partnering for regional security. For just as Iraq has pledged not to interfere with other nations, other nations must not interfere in Iraq. Iraq’s sovereignty must be respected.
“Meanwhile, there should be no doubt the drawdown in Iraq has allowed us to refocus our resources to achieve progress in Afghanistan, put Al Qaeda on the path to defeat, and to better prepare for the full range of challenges that lie ahead.
“So make no mistake, our strong presence in the Middle East endures, and the United States will never waver in defense of our allies, our partners, or our interests.
“This is the shared vision that Prime Minister Maliki and I reaffirmed today – an equal partnership, a broad relationship that enhances the security, the prosperity and the aspirations of both our people.
“Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve said it yourself – building a strong and ‘durable relationship between our two countries is vital.’ And I could not agree more.
“So this is a historic moment. A war is ending. A new day is upon us. And let us never forget those who gave us this chance: the untold numbers of Iraqis who have given their lives; more than 1 million Americans – military and civilian – who have served in Iraq; nearly 4,500 fallen Americans who gave their last measure of devotion; tens of thousands of wounded warriors; and so many inspiring military families. They are the reasons that we can stand here today. We owe it to every single one of them – we have a moral obligation to all of them – to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.”
- Transcript: Press conference Q&A on the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in Iraq
- Transcript: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s remarks on the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq
- WhiteHouse.gov: Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister al-Maliki of Iraq in a joint press conference
- c-span.org: President meets with Iraqi Prime Minister