Iraq FM expects no quick change in US policy following Obama win
Many in Iraq said Wednesday they don't expect an immediate shift in U.S. policy toward their country when Barack Obama takes over as the new American president, despite his calls for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops within 16 months.
But top Iraqi officials said they do recognize the new president-elect's perspective on the war in Iraq differs greatly from current U.S. President George W. Bush. "We don't expect any change to happen overnight or any hasty change in U.S. policy and commitment toward Iraq," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told Al-Arabiya TV moments after Obama claimed victory over Republican John McCain.
But he acknowledged that Obama "will not have the same enthusiasm and momentum for this situation" in Iraq as Bush. According to the AP, the Iraqi minister said Obama told Iraqi leaders earlier this year during meetings in Baghdad and Washington that "any decision that concerns Iraq would be taken after thorough discussions with the Iraqi government and field military leaders."
Salim Abdullah, spokesman for the largest Sunni parliamentary bloc, agreed. "We are not concerned that he will take a unilateral decision to move troops quickly from Iraq," Abdullah told The Associated Press.
On his part, Salah al-Obeidi, spokesman of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said Wednesday that with Obama's victory, "we expect that big changes will take place."