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Iraqis Expected Barack Obama To Win Election

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Barack Obama and John McCain debated for months over how the U.S. should wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan. President-elect Obama will have to deal with those conflicts immediately when he takes office in January. Those two countries had an especially strong interest in the outcome of this election, and we'll have reports from both places. In a moment, we'll hear from Kabul. But first here's NPR's Corey Flintoff in Baghdad.

COREY FLINTOFF: Iraqis who favored McCain tended to see him as more committed to Iraq's security.

MONTAGNE: (Foreign language spoken)

FLINTOFF: This is Ali Sadek, a Turkmen politician in Iraq's northern oil city of Kirkuk.

MONTAGNE: (Foreign language spoken)

FLINTOFF: He says Obama is still young and doesn't have the foreign policy experience to help maintain stability in Iraq, which is essential to stability in the region. People who support Obama tend to see him as an agent of change who's likely to withdraw American forces from Iraq more quickly than McCain. Salim Shiban(ph) is the deputy head of a civil rights organization for Iraqis of African descent in Iraq's second largest city, Basra. He says he wants to congratulate Obama in person.

MONTAGNE: I must go to America.

FLINTOFF: Shiban said Obama's victory will strengthen his own movement and show that the U.S. is a mature democracy on its way to racial equality. But many Iraqis say the next president won't really be able to make big changes in U.S. policy toward their country. This is Nabil Hasau(ph), a cardiologist in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region.

MONTAGNE: You know, as everybody knows, that the American policy is already planned. It does not depend on who's going to be the chief.

FLINTOFF: Iraqis who believe that American policy won't change much often cite the example of former dictator Saddam Hussein. They say he believed that President Bill Clinton would be easier to deal with than his predecessor, George H.W. Bush. And they say Saddam was wrong. Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Baghdad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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