US foreign policy challenges: Iraq
BAGHDAD // For the first time in many years, US politics is not a hot topic of conversation in Baghdad’s cafes and clubs.
After the withdrawal of US ground troops at the end of last year, the fulfilment of a campaign promise by Mr Obama that is viewed in the US as one of his foreign policy successes, the rituals of Washington no longer preoccupy Iraqis.
Discussion and debate that used to revolve mainly around US politics and American involvement in the country have turned to matters closer to home – deteriorating security, political instability and stalled reconstruction.
Many Iraqis believe Iranian influence in Iraq has expanded since the US pullout and see this as the biggest security threat. So to the extent that Iraqis care at all about the election, it is the perceived differences between Mr Obama and Mr Romney over Iran that divides them.
Sunnis in the north and west, for instance, lean toward Mr Romney because they believe he will limit Iranian power in Iraq.
Among Iraqis, another fear also lingers: that their country could become embroiled in a war between Iran on the one hand and the US and Israel on the other.
Updated: November 4, 2012 04:00 AM