Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Iraqis Hopeful; Community Excited by Handover's Possibilities, Worried by Instability

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Iraqis Hopeful; Community Excited by Handover's Possibilities, Worried by Instability

Article excerpt

Byline: LUKE O'BRIEN, The Times-Union

Jacksonville's Iraqi community reacted with both excitement and apprehension Monday after learning that U.S. officials had turned over power to Iraqi leaders two days earlier than expected.

The surprise move, which ceded authority to a six-month interim government, raised hopes for several Jacksonville residents that Iraq slowly was gaining stability.

"Now Iraq is free," said Kazim Kazim, 48, a Baghdad native and father of seven who lives in Arlington's Desert Winds apartment complex, a center of the city's Iraqi community.

Most of Kazim's neighbors expressed similar feelings.

"Today is the start," said Ahmed Almousawi, 34, who came to the United States from Karbala in 1993. "Iraq control has to come from the Iraqi people."

Iraqis in Jacksonville were glued to Arabic-language television channels Monday, eager for news about their country's first foray into democracy in decades.

"You can see the happiness in the children's eyes," Kazim said, nodding at images from the Al-Jazeera broadcast on his living room television. He felt confident the new prime minister, Iyad Allawi, was the appropriate choice to head the interim government. "He has a good personality," Kazim said. "He knows how Iraq should go."

But Kurds in Jacksonville voiced concern about Allawi's connections to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

"The prime minister and the rest are from the old regime," said Dlier Rasheed, 43, who came from Montreal to visit his cousin, Nazar Arif, a Jacksonville resident.

"We are so worried," Rasheed said. "We don't trust this government. Now that they get the power, they start to play around with the Kurdish people."

Rasheed and Arif said the powder-keg issue will be how the new Iraqi government deals with Kurdish land claims in oil-rich regions such as Kirkuk. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.