Iraqis in America weigh in on McCain v. Obama

Something called Inter Press Service News Agency published an article late last week about the views of Iraqi refugees and immigrants on the Presidential campaign and asked which of the candidates would be better for Iraq.  The article is a bit confusing because first they cite polls in Iraq where Iraqis by very large margins supposedly want America out, but then Iraqis interviewed here seem to be mostly for McCain, at least on issues relating to their homeland.

“I am so sad to say it, but I think that McCain would be better for the future of Iraq, especially since my family and friends are still living there,” Bassam Sebti, a 28-year-old Iraqi who has lived in the United States for two years, told IPS.

“I’m a taxpayer now. Obama is better for the U.S., but not for Iraq,” said Sebti, who is an editor at the International Centre for Journalists and lives in Washington. 

Naseer Nori, 51, came with his family to the U.S. in May under the Iraqi refugee resettlement programme. “Iraqis back home prefer McCain — they do not want an early withdrawal, which will only leave the country in the hands of militias and political parties that will fight with each other,” he told IPS. “We do not have a strong military to stop that.”

Then here is another Iraqi interviewed who sees it completely differently, but keep in mind that Saddam was a Sunni and this fellow was a part of the favored sect in Iraq prior to our arrival:

Other Iraqis here believe that Obama would be better on U.S. domestic policy, especially treatment of immigrants and refugees, and have no confidence in McCain’s policies toward their homeland.

Suhail Ahmed, a 55-year-old Sunni translator, also moved here with his family in May. Asked to assess the candidates, he responded wryly: “A milkmaid will never tell you that her yogurt is sour.”

Ahmed noted that the Republicans have never admitted that they made mistakes in Iraq. “People back home are tired, and the Republicans will follow the same footsteps of Bush — nothing good will happen to Iraq if McCain wins,” he said.

Bottomline, there is no consensus.  But, this article does give us some useful statistics:

At the time of the 2000 census, about 89,000 Iraqis lived in the Unites States. That number represented only 0.3 percent of all foreign-born people living here. According to Refugee International, 13,754 Iraqi refugees have come to the U.S. from 2001 to 2008.

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