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Obama Victory Welcomed From Mideast To Afghanistan


Source: RFE/RL

From the former Soviet republics to the Middle East and Afghanistan, Obama's election victory is seen as a major milestone in U.S. history and a chance to restore the United States' reputation around the world.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Baghdad regards Obama's victory as an opportunity to establish "a successful future partnership" between the United States and Iraq.

Pakistani children declare their support for Obama

Obama, a U.S. senator from the state of Illinois, had opposed the Iraq invasion of 2003. During his campaign, he called for a complete withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months -- a position that is shared by the Iraqi government.

"I, as an Iraqi, am asking President Obama to keep his promises about the withdrawal of the security forces from our land," Iraqi journalist Baqi Naqid said.

"And we want him to be as friendly as he can be with the Iraqi people and the government," he added. "We don't need an occupation here. We need people to help us to improve the security situation here and services."

Baghdad resident Fadhil al-Shamri said he agrees. "We  call upon President Obama to have good relations with Iraq and to pull U.S. and multinational forces out of Iraq as soon as possible."

Another Baghdad resident, Muhammad al-Shabiki, said it also is important for the incoming U.S. administration to engage diplomatically with Iran and to craft a new U.S. policy on the Middle East.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said the incoming U.S. administration has no alternative but to reexamine its foreign policy toward all regions in the world -- but especially the Middle East.

"A serious evaluation of the U.S. performance in the region -- particularly in the past eight years -- is the most immediate recommendation that can be prescribed to the U.S. government," Mottaki said.

The United States and Western Europe charge Iran with seeking to develop nuclear weapons and the UN Security Council has levied sanctions on Tehran in an effort to force it to cooperate with the UN's nuclear watchdog agency.

Calls For Change

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai told journalists that Kabul's main demand from the incoming U.S. president will be to review the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan.

"For now I will demand from the next American president that the war against terrorism should not be fought in the Afghan villages. Therefore, the use of aerial bombing, which often results in civilian casualties and destruction of Afghan life and property, cannot produce tangible results," Karzai said.

"Going after their sanctuaries, their safe havens, training centers and stopping those who train them and are funding them and are sending them to [kill the international forces] and Afghans. That is the way to move forward," he added.

In the volatile southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, residents expressed hope that the Obama administration will be more successful in bringing peace and stability to their country than the outgoing Bush administration has been.

"If Barack Obama is able to fulfill the promises and pledges that he has made [during his campaign regarding Afghanistan]. Inshallah, it will have very positive results in Afghanistan," said Raza Sultan Zadran, an ethnic Pashtun from the southeastern province of Khost near the border with Pakistan.

Aimal Khan Momand, a resident of the Momand Dara district of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar Province, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that he hopes for new policies on Afghanistan from the incoming administration.

"Barack Obama should configure a policy for Afghanistan that results in peace and stability," Momand said. "The people of Afghanistan are suffering from many complex problems. I demand from him to come up with a policy for Afghanistan that brings peace and tranquility to our land."

In the tribal regions of neighboring Pakistan, residents who were unhappy with the policies of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration say they hope Obama's election will help improve their situation.

Obama's election "is a positive development and we are happy. Bush's policies were too harsh on Muslims. Now we will see what [Obama's] policies will mean for Muslims," said Nasir Shah of the North Waziristan border region.

"We hope that he is a new face and that it is possible for him to bring some changes. We hope that the United States will stop its attacks in the tribal areas and that the Pakistani military will withdraw from those regions as well," he added. "They are conducting more attacks than the Americans."

Obama's election also is viewed positively by politicians in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

"The supporters of [Obama's] Democratic Party are intellectuals and young people. There has been strong support from the entire nation as well," said Kyrgyz opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva, a former foreign minister and a former ambassador to the United States.

"It is now a reality that a black person has been elected to the highest position in the most powerful state in the world," she added. "This is a great signal and encouragement [for the rest of the world.]"

In Tajikistan, the deputy chairman of parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said Obama's victory will lead to stronger ties between the Washington and Dushanbe. Olimjon Salimov said that with Obama in the White House it will be possible to put an end to "aggressions in the world."

He said he expects U.S. troops to be withdrawn soon from Iraq, and that, in general, there will be a positive change in U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan contributed to this report

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