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Spanish version of the news article.
27 de Febrero de 2009 - En medio de un clima de gran expectativa, el presidente Barack Obama anunció que el 31 de agosto de 2010 marcará el fin de las operaciones de combate estadounidenses en Irak y que pretende retirar todas las tropas para fines de 2011.
"No podemos hacer frente a los desafíos regionales de manera aislada, necesitamos una estrategia más sensata, más sostenida y exhaustiva", afirmó Obama, en un discurso en la base militar de Fort Lejeune, en Carolina del Norte.
Y agregó en un tramo de su discurso: "No dejaremos que vuelvan los fantasmas sobre Irak. No podemos ser los policías de las calles de Irak indefinidamente. Vamos a contribuir a asegurar la paz en la región".
El retiro masivo de tropas compuestas por 142.000 hombres, se produciría desde la actualidad hasta el 31 de agosto de 2010, mientras que el retiro completo se está programado para agosto de 2011.
Entre las razones que movilizan el retiro de las tropas estadounidenses de Irak, Obama señaló a la dura crisis económica que está viviendo Estados Unidos. "Nosotros no podemos sostener de manera indefinida un compromiso que puso presión sobre nuestros militares y que le costará al pueblo estadounidense cerca de un billón de dólares", explicó Obama.
Obama, uno de los pocos opositores desde la primera hora en Estados Unidos a esta guerra, concretará así su compromiso electoral de poner fin a un conflicto que va a entrar en su séptimo año y que dividió profundamente a los estadounidenses y a la comunidad internacional.
"Estados Unidos no puede mantener un compromiso indefinido en Irak que no sólo puso bajo presión a las fuerzas militares sino que, además, costó a los contribuyentes casi un billón de dólares", afirmó el presidente norteamericano y resaltó que entre 30.000 y 50.000 efectivos permanecerán en el país hasta el retiro total en 2010, para entrenar a las fuerzas iraquíes y ejecutar misiones antiterroristas.
English version of the news article.
February 27, 2009 - President Obama declared Friday that the United States has now “begun the work of ending this war” in Iraq as he announced the withdrawal of most American forces by the summer of next year while leaving behind as many as 50,000 troops for more limited missions.
Nearly six years after American troops crossed the border into Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, Mr. Obama said “renewed cause for hope” produced by improved security would allow Americans to begin disentangling militarily and turn the country over to the Iraqis themselves.
“Let me say this as plainly as I can,” the president told thousands of Marines stationed here. “By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”
The “transitional force” he will leave behind will no longer participate in major combat missions but instead train and advise Iraqi security forces, hunt down terrorist cells and protect American civilian and military personnel working in Iraq. Mr. Obama promised that all of them will leave as well by December 2011 in accordance with a security agreement with Iraq negotiated by President George W. Bush before he left office last month.
At the same time, Mr. Obama vowed to continue the American commitment to building a new Iraqi society and to resettling millions of displaced Iraqis still away from home — elsewhere in their own nation or in neighboring countries. And he promised to escalate diplomatic involvement in the broader region, including new lines of communication with Iran and Syria.
“Every nation and every group must know — whether you wish America good or ill — that the end of the war in Iraq will enable a new era of American leadership and engagement in the Middle East,” the president said. “And that era has just begun.”
The announcement marked a sharp turning point in the American venture in Iraq, one that signaled a shift in the once-fiery political debate at home and in the nation’s priorities abroad. The choice of Camp Lejeune, the largest Marine base on the East Coast, symbolized the transition because 8,000 troops from here will soon ship out to Afghanistan as part of a 17,000-troop buildup ordered by Mr. Obama.
The reaction to the Iraq drawdown plan indicated an emerging consensus in the United States that it is time to begin getting out. While some leading Congressional Democrats grumbled about the size of the residual force, the drawdown largely won support across party lines, including from leading Republicans like Senator John McCain of Arizona, who lost year’s election to Mr. Obama after a fierce debate over Iraq.
Speaking on the Senate floor on Friday before the president’s speech, Mr. McCain credited the opportunity to pull troops out to the surge that Mr. Bush ordered two years ago with his support. But he cautioned that Iraq remains fragile, urging Mr. Obama to remain flexible and listen to military commanders.
“With these factors in mind, I believe the president’s withdrawal plan is a reasonable one,” Mr. McCain said. “Given the gains in Iraq and the requirements to send additional troops to Afghanistan, together with the significant number of troops that will remain in Iraq and the president’s willingness to reassess based on conditions on the ground, I am cautiously optimistic that the plan as laid out by the president can lead to success.”
Former Bush aides also offered support for the plan, calling it the logical next step after the president’s agreement with Iraq to withdraw all forces by the end of 2011. “The specific timing is only slightly different but consistent with the goal of helping Iraq become self sufficient in providing its own security,” Gordon D. Johndroe, who was Mr. Bush’s last national security spokesman, said in an interview. “This is possible because of the success of the surge.”
Mr. Obama called Mr. Bush from a holding room at Camp Lejeune just before going on stage in the base gymnasium to make the announcement, aides said. He called Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq from Air Force One on the flight from Washington to brief him on the withdrawal plan.
In Baghdad, Yassen Majeed, an adviser to Mr. Maliki, said the prime minister “is very comfortable with the plan.”
“The Prime Minister assured the American president that the security situation in Iraq is stable and his forces are ready to take over all the responsibilities from the American side.”
But others there were more cautious, including Sunni lawmakers worried about their the possible erosion of their influence in the Shiite-dominated government.
Several noted with approval Mr. Obama’s statement that the Iraqi government would only have American support as long as it remained non-sectarian. “All Iraqis want the American to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible,” said Adnan al-Dulaimi, a senior Sunni politician. “We’re just afraid of the vacuum that this withdrawal may cause.”
During his speech, Mr. Obama credited troops who “got the job done” but gave no credit to the troop surge and associated strategy shift that he opposed in January 2007. He praised Ambassador Ryan Crocker as an “unsung hero” and Gens. David H. Petraeus and Ray Odierno as the “finest generals,” without mentioning Mr. Bush. His only implicit reference to his predecessor came when he said Iraq had taught painful lessons about how and when America should go to war.
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