Reactions mixed in Kuwait as US votes


By Chidi Emmanuel, Staff Writer


KUWAIT: From North to the South Pole, all eyes were glued to the television sets yesterday as Americans voted in a nail-biting presidential election marked by the spartanly different visions of the Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. For most American voters, this electioneering campaign was all about the economy and jobs, but for Kuwaitis and expatriates, it is about American foreign policies. “The USA of today represents a lot. It has extended its tentacles to almost all the continents – that is why when America sneezes; the whole world catches cold.

A meltdown in US – either politically or economically will always send ripple effects across the globe. We hope that the American people will go for the best this time because their vote can make or mar the world,” Emmanuel Grant, a political scientist said. Opinions, expectations and hopes varied as millions of Americans cast their ballots yesterday. “It doesn’t make much difference whether Obama or Romney get elected because American polices will remain the same. When Obama was elected four years ago, all hopes were on him as the first black president of the US, but he turned out to follow the line of his predecessors. He promised to reach out to the Arab world and resolve the Palestinian issue but all turned out to be a hoax,” Nada Khalil, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin said in disappointment.

“When he said assalamualaikum in Egypt, we thought we now have a brother in the White House but only for him to turn his back on us (the Palestinians),” her friend Noor added as they drank coffee at a coffee shop in Salmiya. “I love Obama, but I prefer a Republican to a Democrat. US needs a strong leadership. Republicans talk tough – they saved us from Saddam’s invasion in 1990. Sometimes it takes only an iron to sharpen an iron.

The Middle East countries need a strong America and – America needs a strong leader,” Abdul Aziz Naqi, a 34-year Kuwaiti argued. In his view, Ali Al-Saqer sees Obama as the best man for top post. “Obama has achieved a lot in his short time in office – the Iraq war has ended with US troops pulled out; Osama bin Laden and other terror kingpins have been killed; the Afghan war is winding down and the battered US economy is gradually picking up among others. Although he didn’t make much progress in Arab-Israeli crisis, but it is still not off his table,” Saqer said on an optimistic note.

For some Pakistanis, Obama’s tenure was a nightmare as Pakistan suffered the worst drone attacks in history. “Pakistan witnessed the worst form of humiliation and deaths during Obama’s four years in office. His drone policy has taken a human and political toll. We thought he will be better than the former US president George W Bush but he turned out to be worse,” an angry Pakistani expatriate who preferred to remain anonymous lamented. “They (Obama and Romney) are all the same. Same coin with different faces, I despise their anti-Islam policies,” Afzaal Ali, another Pakistani, added.

When Obama defeated Senator John McCain in the 2008 election, Africa exploded in joy and celebration with much hope and expectations. “With the first black man in the White House, Africa heaved a sigh of relief but as he rounded up his first term in office, Obama who once championed for US presence in Africa now sits behind and watches China’s ‘invasion’ in Africa.

For four years as the president of US, Obama never visited his native home country Kenya,” Elo Emma, a Nigerian expatriate said in dismay. “We pray that he remembers his roots when he wins a second term,” he added. “Although I am very much disappointed with him (Obama), I still pray that he gets re-elected. The Kenyan people still love him even though we have not felt his influence in Kenya and Africa. He has made Kenya more popular – at least I can say that my brother is the president of the world,” Winne, a Kenyan expatriate said proudly.

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