Updated 11/5 10:00 PM EST
US Ambassador Ryan Crocker said today that the United States’ general policy towards Iraq will not change after the election of Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States.
This seems to also be the view of Iraqi officials, with presidential cabinet chief Nusseir al-Aani saying “only approaches and strategies” will change in Iraq, “but the aim will remain as it is.” Iraqi Foreign Ministry Hoshyar Zebari also said the cabinet does not expect that the new administration will make “surprising changes” nor did he expect President-elect Obama to embark on a “quick disengagement” policy with respect to Iraq.
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, whose Iraqi Islamic Party severed all ties with the United States late last month over the killing of a senior party member, sent a congratulatory message to Obama and said he hopes the promise of change will not be limited to the United States.
Meanwhile Ahmed al-Massoudi, the spokesman for the opposition Sadrist bloc, demanded that the President-elect withdraw American troops from Iraq, adding “he made promises to pull out troops from Iraq. The Iraqi people do not care about who will lead America, they only care about their independence.”
President-elect Obama initially spoke of a 16 month plan to withdraw American combat forces from Iraq, he later clarified that with numerous pre-conditions which made it more of a best-case scenario. Eventually, Obama was praising the “success” of the surge and the differences between his position and that of the current administration were unclear at best.
He is widely expected to cut troop levels somewhat (above and beyond the trivial cut announced today) so he can shift more troops into Afghanistan. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed this evening to hold Obama to the cuts, and took credit for his victory in yesterday’s election.