US Willing to Leave 10K Troops in Iraq
But unless formal request is made, only 200 will remain in 2012
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2011 7:55 AM CDT
In this Jan. 25, 2007 file photo, the sun sets at a US military base Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

(Newser) – The deadline for the departure of most American troops from Iraq arrives at the end of this year, but the White House is prepared to keep up to 10,000 troops in place after that point. Of course, such a move would require Iraq's deeply divided government making a formal request—but the Obama administration is airing this proposal in an attempt to spur Baghdad, officials tell the Los Angeles Times.

"There's only so much time here available for the Iraqi government to make such a request. If they do, we will consider it. Otherwise, we are keeping on schedule," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. Under the 2008 agreement with the Bush administration, around 200 troops would remain in Iraq after December. Though Prime Minister Nouri Maliki publicly favors troop withdrawal, he is believed to privately think otherwise. The subject is controversial both in Iraq and the US, but fears are increasing that a near-complete pull-out would lead to increased insurgent attacks.