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Iraqis credit troop withdrawal plan for Obama award

Even though it was President Bush who actually signed off on the accord requiring all U.S. troops to leave by the end of 2011, Iraqis have been heartened by Obama's pledges to end the war.

October 10, 2009|Saif Hameed and Liz Sly

BAGHDAD — Many Iraqis interpreted the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama on Friday as recognition of his role in winding down the Iraq war, never mind that the timetable for troop withdrawal was negotiated under his predecessor.

"He deserves even more," said Qassim Fartoosi, 35, a store owner in the capital's Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Sadr City. "Who was expecting peace from America? All we heard from American policies were threats and wars."

Even though it was former President Bush who signed off on the security pact setting the end of 2011 as a deadline for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces, Obama's pledges to end the war have certainly helped restore a measure of trust in America on the part of Iraqis who otherwise were disinclined to believe that the troops really would go home.

Obama deserved the prize because "he took the poison out of the U.S. relationship with the world, and especially the Muslim world," said Ahmad Chalabi, the man whose false reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction played a big role in Bush's decision to go to war. "It is palpable here in Iraq now."

But some Iraqis said they would have preferred seeing the prize awarded to Obama after all U.S. troops had left Iraq. "Frankly speaking, he hasn't been in office that long," said Ali Mohsen, 26, a state employee.

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liz.sly@latimes.com

Hameed is a Times staff writer.

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