Obama Signs Legislation Committing U.S. to Iraq Withdrawal

Published October 29th, 2009 - 08:48 GMT

President Barack Obama today signed
legislation that that formally recognizes the U.S. obligation to withdraw from Iraq
and requires the Pentagon to provide quarterly reports on the progress of that
withdrawal.

This is the first time since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that Congress has passed
legislation that affirms that the United States is committed to leaving Iraq by a
specific date, two national Quaker organizations, the American Friends Service
Committee (AFSC) and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) said
today.

"We congratulate Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin and House Armed Services
Chairman Ike Skelton for including this important milestone in the 2010 military
authorization bill," said Aura Kanegis, Director of Public Policy for the American
Friends Service Committee. "The U.S.-Iraq bilateral agreement is so central to
public discourse in Iraq, but too often forgotten in the U.S." The United States and
Iraq signed a bilateral agreement in November 2008 that commits the United States to
withdraw all military forces from Iraq by December 31, 2011.

The legislation signed by President Obama today requires the Pentagon to report to
Congress every three months on progress to withdraw all U.S. troops, withdraw or
transfer to Iraqi authorities all military equipment, close down or transfer to
Iraqi authorities military bases, and release or transfer to Iraqi authorities all
Iraqi detainees before the December 31, 2011 deadline.

"The first congressional effort to signal support for complete withdrawal was the
ban on establishing permanent bases in Iraq," said Jim Fine, the Legislative
Secretary on Foreign Policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. "Now
the Pentagon will issue month by month reports on the progress made to close down
bases or transfer them to the Iraqi government, which adds new teeth to this
historic provision."

With this law, Congress has established unprecedented oversight of the progress made
towards complete withdrawal from Iraq.


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