28 October 2009

President Signs Legislation Committing U.S. to Iraq Withdrawal

/PRNewswire/ -- 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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