"Everybody with Obama" in Middle East; Afghanistan, Iraq Challenges to Confront new President

Mark MacKinnon writes that everybody in the Middle East is with Obama:

‘There’s yearning across the Middle East – at least outside of Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan – for a new face in the White House, and John McCain doesn’t fit the bill. He’s seen both by the governments of this region, as well as the legendary “Arab street,” as too close to the policies of George W. Bush. And the eight years the latter spent as the most powerful person in the world are viewed here as an unmitigated disaster. And so the Arab world is ready to embrace the fresh-faced senator from Illinois . . . They hope a President Obama will be less unblinkingly pro-Israel, more willing than Mr. Bush to talk to those who disagree with him, and less likely to use military force to assert America’s broad but declining influence in this region.’

On the other hand, some of the welcome of Obama comes from an expectation that he will pursue military conflict with some regional forces, as Reuters writes:

‘ Afghans welcomed Barack Obama’s U.S. election victory on Wednesday, saying they looked forward to a greater focus on the war with Taliban insurgents that has killed at least 4,000 people this year alone.’

The election of Barack Obama will give Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki more maneuvering room in his quest of a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq, argues Damien McElroy in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, one of Iraq’s vice presidents, Sunni Arab politician Tariq al-Hashimi, has proposed that the draft security agreement between Iraq and the US be put to a national referendum. (Personally, I doubt it would ever pass; the Iraqis just want the US out).

Ned Parker of the LAT reports that at least 16 persons were killed and over 30 wounded in bombings and attacks in Sadr City, east Baghdad, on Tuesday.

Shell and its Iraqi partner will have a monopoly on natural gas in Basra, says a local newspaper (h/t to Iraqoilreport.com).

Ben Turner, an Iraq vet and blogger, turns the page on the Bush years.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Tuesday:

‘ Baghdad

Three people from one family ( a police officer and his two sons) were injured by an adhesive bomb that was stuck to their car in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Karrada around 7:15 a.m.

A policeman was killed and three others were inured when gunmen opened fire on a police patrol in al Ghadeer neighborhood in east Baghdad around 7:30 a.m.

A member of the guards of the head of the property dispute committee was killed and seven people were injured (4 other guards and 3 civilians) by an adhesive bomb that was stuck to a four-wheel drive in the Karrada neighborhood in downtown Baghdad around 12 p.m.

Around 12 p.m. an adhesive bomb that was stuck to a civilian car detonated near Ibn al Haitham hospital in Karrada neighborhood in downtown Baghdad. No casualties reported. The car was damaged.

Around 12:15 p.m. a civilian was killed and five others were injured in al Sinaa Street in downtown Baghdad by an adhesive bomb that was stuck to a civilian car that belonged to a policeman.

Four civilians were inured and eight others were injured by a roadside bomb in al Qahira neighborhood in northeast Baghdad around 1 p.m.

Seven civilians were killed and 18 others were wounded by a bomb that was planted under a vendor’s stand inside al Mashtal bus station in east Baghdad around 2 p.m.

Gunmen assassinated a Lieutenant Colonel working for the ministry of interior affairs inside his car on al Qanat Street in east Baghdad around 2:15 p.m.


Around 11 a.m. a roadside bomb blew up near one of the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s party in the Nasr area in downtown Kirkuk. No casualties were reported.


A patrol of the Iraqi army found two unidentified bodies in al Sehaji area in west Mosul city. The bodies were shot in the head and the chest.


Iraqi police in Salahuddin province says that a civilian was killed and three others were injured when an American vehicle hit them while they were putting up an advertisement in Mkeshifah area; 15 miles south of Tikrit city. US military said that an accident occurred on Tuesday morning between a vehicle for the Coalition Forces and a civilian car carrying two Iraqi civilians in the Tikrit area. One Iraqi civilian died at the scene while the second died of his wounds when he was being treated.’

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