A few minutes ago, President Obama announced that the war in Iraq was over.
"After nearly nine years, the long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year," the president said. President Obama said he talked to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki earlier today and they were both in complete agreement about how to proceed. Obama said that "as promised" by the end of the year all troops will withdraw from the country.
He said that this means the relationship between Iraq and the United States will now be a normal one "between sovereign nations. An equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect."
He added: "Our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays."
The announcement comes after the two countries failed to reach an agreement that, The Washington Post says, "would have left several thousand troops there for special operations and training."
The main issue discussed by the two countries was whether Iraq would grant the remaining U.S. troops legal immunity. As Defense News reports, Iraq said "that although they backed a U.S. training mission post-2011, there was 'no need' for such protection." That created an impasse.
During a press briefing, following the president's announcement, Denis McDonough, the White House's deputy national security adviser, talked about the conversation between the president and the Iraqi Prime Minister. McDonough said the president made clear that the U.S. needs to maintain some security presence to protect diplomatic assets. That's about 150 troops to guard the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the thousands of diplomats across the country.
McDonough also said that about 4,000 to 5,000 security contractors will be left behind and that the U.S. has the ability to maintain "trainers" to support Iraqi security forces.