x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Insurgents in Iraq root for Obama win

Iraqi insurgents have said they hope Barack Obama is elected because he is more likely to restore peace.

DAMASCUS // Iraqi insurgents have said they hope Barack Obama is elected as the next US president because he is more likely than his rival John McCain to withdraw American troops and restore peace. "Whether there can be a peaceful, political end to this or just more violence depends on who wins the US election," said Meshaan al Jabourey, a renowned Iraqi figure blacklisted by the American authorities for playing an active role in the insurgency. "If Obama is chosen, then we see there is a time for negotiations. If McCain is president, it will just be more blood and more resistance. I hope for the path of less bloodshed." Mr Jabourey, a Sunni, was an elected MP before being expelled by the Iraqi parliament for his backing of militants. According to the United States he provides "financial, material, and technical support for acts of violence that threaten the peace and stability of Iraq". The Bush administration this year imposed sanctions on him, accusing him of working as part of an al Qa'eda group, the Mujahadin Shura Council, and of recruiting fighters for Islamic extremist organisations in Iraq. Based in Damascus, Mr Jabourey, 50, works as an adviser to Al Rai television. The station has made enemies of both the US and Iraqi governments for showing clips of insurgent attacks and for giving fighters airtime to talk about opposing the US occupation. "I resist the Americans with all means possible," Mr Jabourey said, although he criticised al Qa'eda for their role in sectarian fighting. "And I confirm to you frankly that we [Al Rai] are a mouthpiece for the resistance, for the resistance groups and their leaders." Before the 2003 invasion, Mr Jabourey called for the toppling of Saddam Hussein, something he says he is now ashamed of, saying it ushered in a worse era under US domination. He warned that violence in Iraq was likely to rise again soon - after recent reductions - unless a new US president changed the course followed by the Bush administration. "Things are changing and so much depends on who is elected," he said. In a separate interview, Abu Mohammed, a member of the Iraqi Baath Party and senior member of the National and Islamic Front in Iraq - an umbrella group of insurgents - said he expected better tactics from Mr Obama. "American presidents have the same overall strategy, which is to support American interests," he said. "But Obama and McCain will follow these in a different way. Obama has made clear his opposition to the war and his opposition to the lies and stupidity of the Bush administration. In fact, it is that which helped him get the nomination as Democratic candidate for president. "We hope to see the next American president continue this perspective, and I'm talking about Obama particularly. But for either Obama or McCain the best way forward is to talk with the resistance and to recognise Iraqis' rights and to withdraw from Iraq." Abu Mohammed - he asked that his real name not be published - said that insurgents would continue to fight any occupation forces and that, regardless of how long it took, the Americans would be forced to leave. "There is resistance only because there is occupation," he said. "The solution is to end the occupation and leave Iraqis to decide on the future of Iraq." The two US presidential candidates have had some of their fiercest clashes over foreign policy, and Iraq in particular. In the first live televised debate between the pair, shown in the Middle East in the early hours of yesterday morning, Mr Obama was highly critical of Mr McCain's record on Iraq. Mr McCain insists his opponent has little foreign policy experience, and was against the troop surge, a policy widely credited with cutting down the sectarian violence in Iraq and quashing a civil war that threatened to tear the country apart. Mr Obama has said he would, subject to military advice, pull out all US troops from Iraq by the middle of 2010, a policy that mirrors that of Iraq's own government. Mr McCain has refused to set deadlines, saying they would embolden insurgents. psands@thenational.ae