Source: The Guardian
Ewen MacAskill in Washington | Friday October 21 2011 20.37 BST
The US suffered a major diplomatic and military rebuff on Friday when Iraq finally rejected its pleas to maintain bases in the country beyond this year.
Obama attempted to make the most of it by presenting the withdrawal as the fulfilment of one of his election promises.
But he had already announced this earlier this year, and the real significance today was in the failure of Obama, in spite of the cost to the US in dollars and deaths, to persuade the Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki to allow one or more American bases to be kept in the country.
Although the US is pulling out all troops, it will keep its embassy in Baghdad and two consulates. There will also be about 4,000-5,000 defence contractors, White House aides said.