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September 1, 2010

Iraq War officially over, says Obama

POLITICS - “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over," says United States President Barack Obama.

The declaration was spoken in a live address from the White House's Oval Office, marking the end of American combat operations in Iraq after 7 years of inability to find Weapons of Mass Destruction and the USA presiding over a civil war being Sunnis and Shiites.

Obama praised American soldiers, but admitted they still have work to do in Afghanistan where he now plans to take troops on the offensive. The 50,000 troops currently in Iraq are scheduled to leave by the end of 2011. Some may leave sooner to be restationed in Afghanistan where they are needed for a growing offensive against Taliban strongholds.

The fate of Iraq's feuding Sunni and Shiite factions, to say nothing of the Kurds in the north will have to be dealt with through diplomacy. The toll of the Iraq War includes 4,400 American soldiers killed, almost 32,000 wounded and over 106,000 Iraqi deaths (Stats from Iraqbodycount.com).

Obama didn't assign blame for the Iraq War and its failings. “It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for the troops or his love of country or his commitment to our security,” said Obama.

On the topic of Afghanistan the President renewed his promise to drawback troops there in August 2011, which implies that if the USA still has works to do there it needs to be done more quickly and efficiently. "As was the case in Iraq, we cannot do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves," says Barack Obama.

“The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake – this transition will begin – because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s."

America's slow withdrawal of troops from Iraq also means that if war breaks out with Iran or North Korea that the USA will have more experienced troops they are able to draw upon in the event of such a conflict.

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