Cablegate: Karbala Views On Obama Election

DE RUEHGB #3623 3210331
P 160331Z NOV 08



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1. (SBU) Summary: With the assistance of one of our Locally
Employed Staff (LES), PRT Karbala conducted an informal
survey of Karbala residents to get a sense of local views
concerning the election of Barack Obama as the next President
of the United States. Although not a scientific sampling,
the opinions expressed aptly illustrate the range of public
sentiment here. End Summary.

Meet the New Boss

2. (SBU) On November 8, a well-connected LES member of the
PRT surveyed a variety of contacts in Karbala to get a sense
of local views concerning the election of Barack Obama as the
next President of the United States. Opinions expressed in
this non-scientific survey ranged from cynicism and fear to
inspiration and hope. Following are comments from the
persons surveyed:

-- A high-school history teacher: "There will not be that
big a difference between this administration and the coming
one. Yes, there will be new names and new faces, but nothing
more than that."

-- The owner of a real-estate agency: "I'm very optimistic
about Obama, as I have heard and read in the news that his
grandfathers were Muslims from Kenya and his relatives and
family are still there. At least we know Obama is not a war
maniac like Bush."

-- A former Sadrist: "Obama will have no power over the
political situation in America, he is just an official
employee. The Jewish lobby controls everything in America."

-- A police official: "I think American policy toward Iraq
will not change. It is not something related to the
Democrats or to the Republicans, but rather to U.S. national
security. All the Americans believe they have to keep enough
troops in Iraq and in Afghanistan to protect the Americans
and to surround al-Qa'ida members in those two countries so
as to prevent them from entering the United States. This is
the whole story and I believe that Obama will not take the
chance to withdraw U.S. troops within 16 months as he
announced in his presidential campaign. He will keep the
troops here for at least a couple of years."

-- A civil engineer: "Obama will make a big change. He
knows Americans lost patience with the Bush Administration
and he does not want to keep U.S. forces in Iraq forever, so
-- in order to demonstrate his credibility -- he must
implement his promise to withdraw from Iraq very soon."

-- A barber: "Obama will not be good for us as Shias. His
grandfathers are Sunni Muslims and so is his tribe in Kenya,
so I think the Iraqi Sunnis will benefit from his election."

-- An Arabic literature scholar: "I think that our political
blocs and our politicians need to learn and take lessons from
Barack Obama. This victory is a victory for minorities all
over the world, especially in the Middle East. It shows how
Americans communicate, live and treat each other with

-- A retired army officer: "Obama may keep talking about
withdrawing U.S. troops, but if he does this very soon it
will be a big mistake. The Iraqi forces are still immature
and not qualified to protect the new Iraq. The Ba'athists
are still hiding and active in the provinces, and if the
Americans withdraw as soon as Obama has said it will be a

© Scoop Media

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