President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Iraq today, praising what he termed the “extraordinary achievement” of American troops in the nation. The visit came just hours after a spate of bombings across Baghdad killed 37 Iraqis and wounded over a hundred others.
During the visit, the president pressured the Iraqi government to “take responsibility for their country,” adding that the United States has “no claim on Iraqi territory and resources.” The US presently has around 138,000 troops in the nation, and President Obama anticipates keeping up to 50,000 troops in the nation indefinitely, though he will declare an end to combat operations on August 31 of next year.
Obama said he believes that the next 18 months are “going to be a critical period” and urged the Iraqi government to do more to integrate the Awakening Council into the security forces. The Iraqi government has claimed the Awakening forces have been infiltrated by both al-Qaeda, and the remnants of the Ba’athist party.