Prague-based Iraqi optimistic about country's future following historic elections

Photo: CTK

Last weekend tens of thousands of Iraqi exiles took part in their country's first free elections since 1953, among them members of the Czech Republic's Iraqi community, which numbers around 250. To get the perspective of an Iraqi living in this country, I spoke to Zaidan Muhsin, who is from Baghdad but has been in Prague for 15 years. I asked Mr Muhsin how he viewed last weekend's elections, and the future of Iraq.

Photo: CTK
"The most important thing is that the election was held. That's what is important I think, but it doesn't matter who will be the winner. Because in the end the Iraqi people themselves are the winners."

After this election is it tenable for the Americans and their allies to remain in Iraq? Or will there be growing pressure on them to leave, even though the Iraqi Army doesn't have sufficient troops yet to control the country?

"Actually it is unreal demanding these troops to leave now. I hope that they will help to educate, to train, to help our army and police just to be capable. How long is really a question. Some people think that [the Americans and their allies will leave] by the end of this year, some of them they say maybe three, four, five years. But I believe these people will never stay forever."

When you talk to your friends and family at home in Iraq are they optimistic about the future of the country?

"Absolutely. And on the day of the election I had about five phone calls from my brothers, even my father, who is 83, and my mother. They were so happy. My mother said, Zaidan, son, I am 68 and I have never seen in my life such a nice day like this. So I think people are so happy, and in general optimistic, really."

Iraq, photo: CTK
And you yourself I can see share that optimism.

"Well, actually you see that was my aim to establish democracy in Iraq. And after all the evil of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein I believe everything in Iraq will be OK. Because nothing is lacking...twenty-five million people, the majority of whom are educated, skilled people who really love this country.

"More than that Iraq is a rich country. We could rebuild Iraq in a very, very quick and a very fast manner. And I am sure that the people who would like to stop this process will be defeated. Because I believe in the future, and in progress."