The Iraqi government says it is confident that US President-elect Barack Obama will not jeopardise the country’s improving security by hastening the withdrawal of American troops.
Obama opposed the war from the start, and his promise to pull out by mid-2010 was a cornerstone of his campaign: “As President, I will end this war (in Iraq). I will ask the Iraqi government to step up for their future, and we will finally finish the fight against bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorists who killed three thousand Americans on 9/11. I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will use our military wisely.”
The US has just 151 thousand troops stationed in Iraq and many gave Obama a cautious welcome:
“First I would like to say congratulations, we have got a lot of soldiers over here, in Afghanistan and back home in the States, and we are looking forward for you to keep the military strong. Also, to our families back home, we are looking forward to you hopefully bringing back the economy to where it was before.” said Lieutenant Mark de la Sella.
Obama’s election win comes as US and Iraqi officials scramble to reach a deal on a new security agreement that would end the US military presence in the country by 2011 and give Iraqis a greater role in managing combat operations.
Violence has dropped sharply in the country recently and experts fear a hasty withdrawal would reverse any gains made.