Messages to the next US president

Messages to the president from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and Ahtisaari to Zoellick.


    Al Jazeera has asked a cross-section of people around the world, politicians from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and from Nobel peace prize-winner Martti Ahtisaari to World Bank President Robert Zoellick, what message they would like to give to the US president.

    Their messages to the US president address a wide range of issues including US foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe, the global economic crisis, climate change and nuclear weapons.

    Hoshyar Zebari: Iraqi foreign minister

    "Our hope, actually, [is that] both candidates will be committed to the achievements and security and stability that has been realised recently, with the surge, with the commitment of the Iraqi government to stabilise the situation.

    "So our message, our hope, is that both McCain and Obama would be very clear here - the stakes are too high, not only for us, for Iraqis, but for the United States, for its interests."

    Bo Kyi: Burmese political prisoner

    "My message to the next president is: Now, the United States imposes sanctions on the Burmese regime. Also, I want the next president to maintain that sanction.

    "In addition, the United States' next president should try to find a way how to negotiate with China for working together for changing Burma into a democratic [country]. That would be really important for Burmese people."


    Morgan Tsvangirai: Leader of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change

    "I think that for Africa we are looking forward to working with the next president of the United States in attending to some of the critical African questions that we are facing.

    "In particular, of course, Zimbabwe is a case, it has been in this pariah status for so long, and we hope we can work together to deal with the problems that Zimbabwe is facing."


    Mahmoud Osman: Kurdish politician

    "I would like the new administration, the next president, to be realistic to deal with the issue of this country, the issue of a whole people and a country and so on.

    "I hope the new administration will take consideration of the Iraqi-Kurdish situation.

    "I hope they will take care of that situation also, they will support federalism, they will support the Iraqi constitution, they will support the objection of the Iraqi people including the Kurds, and also at the same time they wouldn't sacrifice the Kurdish issue for the sake of Turkey or other countries who are allies of the United States."

    Amrullah Saleh: Head of the Afghan intelligence service

    "I think we should rephrase it:

    "How important Afghanistan is for the US elections?

    "And that question I can't answer."




    Yusuf Raza Gilani: Prime minister of Pakistan

    "My message to the newly-elected president of the United States would be that they should give priority to the sovereignty of Pakistan and support democracy in Pakistan.

    "Strategically, we are in a position where we can fight a war for progress, prosperity and peace for the whole world and therefore to think of fighting a war there, without the support of Pakistan, it will be quite difficult, therefore we want to have greater cooperation with the United States."

    Evo Morales: President of Bolivia

    "It's not a question of whether it's Obama or McCain... it's a question of policies.

    "In large measure it will depend on whether the people of the US respond to defeat of the empire around the world."




    Tim Flannery: Australian environmental activist

    "My message to the next president of the United States is simply this: we're moving into a new era now, where all of our key challenges will only be solved by global cooperation.

    "The most important of those challenges is doubtless the climate crisis. And our chance to really address that issue will come in December, next year, when the nations of the world get together in Copenhagen, Denmark, to broker a global treaty.

    "If we ever needed American leadership it is going to be at that moment. With that sort of leadership, I think we can overcome this problem. If we fail in Copenhagen next year, God help us all."

    Abu Bakr al-Qurbi: Yemeni foreign minister

    "My message to the new administration in Washington stems really from our great commitment to work with the American administration and the American people.

    "We are also looking at the new administration to review its policies in our region, to address the issues of substance, like the Palestinian issue, in a different manner."


    Javier Solana: European Union High Representative for foreign policy

    "My message will be that we have very many problems in the world, from the markets, the economic, the financial to climate change, to disarmament, that at least the new president will concentrate on trying to construct a multilateral world in which all these fundamental issues will be resolved, and for that he can be sure he will have the cooperation of many countries, but no doubt the members of the European Union and the European Union."

    Bouthaina Shaaban: An adviser to the Syrian president

    "What we would like to see, really, is more understanding of our region, more realistic policy towards the region.

    "Unfortunately, the American policy for the last few years was quite detached from what is needed in our region.

    "We hope that this will be an opportunity for a review of US policy in the region in a way that will make the region better and will make the reputation of the US better as well."

    Vuk Jeremic: Serbian foreign minister

    "We are now living in a rapidly diverging world, people are drifting away from each other and [the world] is becoming a rowdy place.

    "I think we should really try and work together to make sure that we start coming back together - we need American leadership in that sense, the US government is going to have a very important global job, global task, to help this happen, the international community coming together."

    Martti Ahtisaari: Nobel Peace prize-winner 2008

    "My message is very simple: I expect the new president to cooperate with us in Europe, perhaps on a slightly more equal footing than we have done in the past.

    "And start helping - and this message is as much to the European Union - that we have to start solving the conflicts in the world, and let's start from the Middle East, because that's the most important conflict that needs to be solved."

    Rachid Mohamed Rachid: Egyptian trade and industry minister

    "I think being in the Middle East, the message I would give to any American president is first of all to listen more, to understand more, and to be more engaged in the interests of this region."




    Robert Zoellick: President of the World Bank

    "I think regardless of who's elected, cleaning up the financial issues and the economic aftermath are going to be a priority.

    "My key message is: whatever you do domestically, you also have to try to do internationally, and you have to connect the two together.

    "So you and I may have a difference of view on that, I think we're in a global economy - I think Al Jazeera's a good example of something that works across borders - and I think whether it be communications, transportation or others, that's the direction the world is going and we need to try to support that and make it stronger, particularly for those at the bottom end."

    Arthur Mutambara: Leader of a breakaway faction of Zimbabwe's MDC

    "Our message to the next president of the United States is very simple: we want to heal the relationship between our country and America.

    "Also, more importantly, we seek American investors to come to our country. We are sick and tired of being beneficiaries of aid and hand-outs.

    "No, Mr New President, we are not interested in charity, but the major message is: Africans are going to be masters of our own destiny and we don't want any patronising attitudes from America viz a vis our business - you take the cue from us and then you fashion your foreign policy on the basis of what we want for ourselves."

    Mullah Zaeff: Former Taliban ambassador

    "My message to them is to return to the peace and stability and to use the wisdom and to find the plausible way for everything, not to be famous by criminal. And this will benefit them and the nation of America and the world and especially Afghanistan.

    [And my message is also] to stop war and to stop killing, capturing the people and searching the houses, and to stop the activities which [caused] the people of Afghanistan [to] become angry with them."

    Arundhati Roy: Indian writer and activist

    "I don't know whether the next US president is really going to be a next US president or the same US president, in the sense that whether it's Obama or McCain they seem to both agree on the main things.

    "They seem to agree about Iraq, they seem to agree about deploying more troops in Afghanistan, maintaining US domination there.

    "They seem to think that it's all right for Israel to have nuclear weapons, for India to have nuclear weapons, but Iran must not and if it does it will be bombed."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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