Iraqis like Obama more than his strategy by SABRINA TAVERNISE and RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. The New York Times July 17, 2008:
BAGHDAD — A tough Iraqi general melted into smiles when asked about Sen. Barack Obama.
"Everyone in Iraq likes him," said the general, Nassir al-Hiti. "I like him. He's young. Very active. We would be very happy if he was elected president."
But mention Obama's plan for withdrawing American soldiers, and the general stiffens.
"Very difficult," he said, shaking his head. "Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: For now, we don't have that ability."
Thus in a few brisk sentences, the general summed up the conflicting emotions about Obama in Iraq, the place outside America with perhaps the most riding on its relationship with him.
There was, as Obama prepared to visit here, excitement over a man who is the anti-Bush in almost every way: a Democrat who opposed a war that many Iraqis feel devastated their nation. And many in the political elite recognize that Obama shares their hope for a more rapid withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.
But his support for troop withdrawal cuts both ways, reflecting a deep internal quandary in Iraq: For many middle-class Iraqis, affection for Obama is tempered by worry that his proposal could lead to chaos in a nation already devastated by war. Many Iraqis also acknowledge that security gains in recent months were achieved partly by the buildup of American troops, which Obama opposed and his likely Republican opponent, John McCain, supported.
"In no way do I favor the occupation of my country," said Abu Ibrahim, a Western-educated businessman in Baghdad, "but there is a moral obligation on the Americans at this point."