With 150,000-plus US soldiers still in their country over five years after the invasion, the Iraqi public is watching the upcoming US presidential election with great interest. But much like the American public, they appear divided on whether Republican Party nominee John McCain or his Democratic Party opponent Barack Obama is the preferred candidate.
Some Iraqis hope that Sen. Obama will win and fulfill his promise to pull troops out of the country, while many in Iraqi Kurdistan fear Obama would jeopardize their growing influence in the nation and hope that Sen. McCain will win and keep the troops there.
For many others however, the choice itself makes little difference and its effect on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States is the most pressing issue. Campaign rhetoric aside, they believe that neither candidate is likely to withdraw forces from the country, and that “it is the institutions, not the individuals, that decide US long-term policies.”
The Bush Administration is expected to reply to the proposed SOFA amendments submitted by the Iraqi government sometime after Tuesday’s election. But the Washington Times quotes anonymous officials saying the administration will not react favorably to the proposals, that the Iraqis are “asking for things that no US president can agree to,” and that the US is looking into asking the United Nations Security Council to extend its mandate beyond the December 31 deadline.