US lawmakers have urged President Barack Obama to renegotiate a troop withdrawal from Iraq one day after Washington officially declared the end to its military mission in the Middle Eastern country.
“We call upon the Obama Administration and the Iraqi government to reopen negotiations with the goal of maintaining an effective residual US military presence in Iraq before the situation deteriorates further,” said Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham in a joint statement on Monday.
The two senators blamed Obama for failing to reach an agreement with Baghdad that would authorize a US troop presence in Iraq past the yearend withdrawal date.
Washington had earlier put forward a proposal in which it hoped to extend its military presence in Iraq after the withdrawal deadline and that its military forces would be granted immunity if they were to remain. The Iraqi government, however, rejected the proposal.
Yet, thousands of military advisors and diplomats are expected to remain in Iraq as part of the US embassy personnel in Baghdad, with US President Barack Obama pledging to keep a robust diplomatic presence in the country.
On Sunday, the US officially announced it had ended its military mission in Iraq after a nearly nine-year long war.
US House Speaker John Boehner had shortly after the announcement warned about the risk entailed by the absence of American military forces in Iraq, claiming Iraqis would be unable to maintain national security by themselves.
In 2003, the US invaded Iraq under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) allegedly stockpiled by the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. However, it was revealed later that the Iraqi regime did not possess any such weapons, and that American and British leaders, who had defended the military action, previously knew about the non-existence of the WMDs.
The US military invasion and occupation has left around a million Iraqis killed, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.
Additionally, the occupation has left some 4,500 US troops dead and thousands more injured, reportedly costing Washington nearly a whopping one trillion dollars in military expenditures.