Obama win sparks global conversation on Iraq and Afghanistan

Troop withdrawal, Taliban havens, and Iraq's security may define Obama's presidency, analysts say.

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News that Barack Obama is the president-elect of the United States has already sparked a global conversation about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how American foreign policy will shift in the coming months.

A review of Mr. Obama's foreign-policy initiatives in The Guardian prioritized the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Iraq, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari stated that he did not expect an immediate shift in US policy despite Obama's unique perspective on the war there, reports the Associated Press (AP).

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Meanwhile, US troops stationed in Iraq watching election results come in on Wednesday morning hoped that Obama would bring soldiers home quickly yet responsibly, reports Reuters.

Iraqi citizens were divided about the long-term implications of Obama's victory, reports The Guardian.

According to the London-based Telegraph, Obama's stance on the Iraq war will be one of the defining issues of his term in office.

In a news analysis run by the AP, Steven Hurst argues that Iraq could be the first diplomatic and military bind facing Obama, even before he takes office on Jan. 20, 2009, if the Iraqi government does not submit a draft security pact to Parliament for approval in the coming days. The pact calls for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, but Iraqi lawmakers are still pressing for changes to the pact: They want more jurisdiction over US troops, a guarantee that Iraqi territory will not be used to launch attacks in neighboring countries, and no possibility for US troops to extend their stay in Iraq.

The Obama win may also bring a spike in violence in Iraq, reports The Guardian.

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai celebrated Obama's victory and welcomed the president-elect's new strategy, which places a greater focus on the war with the Taliban, reports Reuters India. Mr. Karzai also requested that Obama help eradicate Taliban strongholds in Pakistan.

An Afghanistan-based Taliban spokesman also had a message for Obama, reports the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press [password protected]. Qari Mohammad Yousuf stated that the new American president should withdraw troops from Afghanistan and thus "begin an era of peace."

Critics of Obama's Afghanistan strategy have pointed out that increasing troop presence there will not necessarily be the best solution, reports The Guardian.

According to the BBC, news of Obama's victory provoked a warm reaction in Pakistan.

Pakistan's prime minister also congratulated Obama on his victory, saying he hoped the Democrat would promote "peace and stability."

However, Dawn, an English-language Pakistani daily, reports that Mr. Gilani warned on Tuesday that unless unilateral attacks by US and NATO forces on targets in Pakistan ceased, the new president would face widespread anti-American sentiment.

An opinion piece in another Pakistani daily, The News, warns against Obama's Pakistan policy, arguing that it will result in civil war and an eventual takeover by longtime rival India.

Indeed, Obama's expressed desire to address the longstanding Kashmir dispute so that the Pakistani military can focus on tackling the regional terrorist threat has caused concern in New Delhi, reports The Hindustan Times.

On a more general note, a news analysis by Rob Reynolds on the Al Jazeera website emphasizes how Obama's heritage may facilitate relations between the US and the Muslim world at large.

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