Iraqi native living in Kalamazoo lives in fear for family, friends safety

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's a new era in Iraq, as the incumbent Prime Minister is stepping aside, to make way for a new leader who promises change.

Iraq's political leaders are standing behind the Prime Minister-designate, Haider al-Abadi.

Al-Abadi says he's committed to fighting corruption and uniting the Iraqi people in the face of terrorism.

This will be the country's first democratic transition of power since U.S. forces withdrew at the end of 2011.

On Thursday, incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced he would not fight to stay in office.

President Obama says the new Prime Minister must now unite Shi'ites and Sunnis in a new government.

"He still has a challenging task in putting a government together, but we are modestly hopeful that the Iraqi government situation is moving in the right direction," the President said of al-Abadi.

The change in power could mean a break to the long-standing deadlock that allowed the terror group known as ISIS to control much of northern Iraq.

On Friday, Newschannel 3 spoke to a Kurdish man from northern Iraq, who says he lives in fear daily, not knowing what might happen to his friends and family thousands of miles away.

Dlawar Abdulrahman is currently studying at WMU. He's been in the U.S. for the last 8 months. He says for years, the area in northern Iraq where he lived had been fairly safe.

Now, in a matter of weeks, that has all changed.

Every day, Abdulrahman says he fears for his family's safety.

"Because of the situations, every day we have to communicate with our family, especially by Internet," he said.

He says life in northern Iraq is not what it used to be.

"When I came here, there was not ISIL, there were not terrorists in our country," he said.

The sense of security he once had, though, is now gone.

"When terrorists live close to your city, yes, we're scared about it," Abdulrahman said.

ISIS militants are pushing to take control of the Kurdistan region in Iraq, terrorizing civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.

"We've seen the real demise of Iraq over the last number of months," said Rep. Fred Upton. "(There's) genuine concern by many of us with the gains that ISIS has made, the brutality that they have on all the folks there."

"After (we) give some help, and other countries give some aid for refugees and for our city, especially Irbihl, now we are...we feel better," Abdulrahman said.

With incumbent Prime Minister al-Maliki stepping down, Abdulrahman says he has hope that the corruption will end.

"Not just for Kurdish people, we hope for everyone in Iraq, the situation will be good because civil people do not have any authority to change things," he said.

Abdulrahman says getting home would be difficult now, as some airlines are not flying into the Kurdistan region because of the dangerous situation.