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Volume 18, Number 25, June 16, 2004
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Feature: Operation Iraqi Freedom - Part II (a Democratic State)
To the casual observer, Baghdad, Iraq does not give the impression of being the place for an historic new concept, democracy in the Arab mid-east.
Regardless, the United States is bent on achieving that worthy goal despite strong opposition from religious extremists who would prefer they themselves took control of that nation.
Had the U.S. not messed with events in the Middle East by invading Iraq and ousting the failing regime of Saddam Hussein, the leaders of the various jihadist movements like Al Qaeda would have slipped into the castle and taken over the throne of leadership.
Their loss is immense and their anger unprecedented. Don't be surprised if Al Qaeda affiliated rival Abu Musab al-Zarkawi has everyone and every thing associated with Iraq's transformation killed in the coming days and weeks as June 30 approaches.
Micheal J. O'Brien, Editor
U.S. President Bush on Iraq
With the transfer of sovereignty two weeks away, the future of a free Iraq is coming into view, President Bush told a worldwide military audience and service members assembled at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., today.
U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command have their headquarters at MacDill.
A satellite television hook-up enabled the president to make his remarks directly to service members assembled in hangars at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, and Baghdad International Airport, Iraq, and the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Radio and Television Service carried his address to military people in other parts of Afghanistan and Iraq, at 20 bases in the United States, and around the globe to wherever U.S. military people serve.
"A turning point will come two weeks from today," the president said. "On June 30, governing authority will be transferred to a fully sovereign interim government. The Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist. An American embassy will open in Baghdad."
In the meantime, Bush said, the Iraqi people are stepping up to bring democracy to their country.
"Iraq's new leaders are rising to their responsibilities. Together with our coalition and the United Nations, they are working to prepare the way for national elections by next January," the president said. "In July, Iraqis from every part of the country will gather for a national conference that will choose an interim national council to advise and support Prime Minister (Ayad) Allawi and his cabinet."
Noting that the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to endorse the Iraqi interim government and the plan for Iraq's political transition, Bush cited the "steady progress" the Iraqi people have made and vowed not to let insurgents and foreign fighters derail the process. "We will not let thugs and killers stand in the way of a free and democratic Iraq," the president promised.
With more than 200,000 Iraqis serving in or training for the country's new security forces, Bush said the United States is leading the international effort to train new forces for Iraq. Experience has shown, he said, that Iraqi soldiers naturally want to take their orders from Iraqi officers, and the coalition is working to build and strengthen the Iraqi chain of command. "So we're helping to prepare a new generation of Iraqi military commanders who will lead the security forces of a free and sovereign Iraq," the president said.
Iraqi forces captured a key lieutenant of fugitive terrorist Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, Bush said, repelled attacks on Mosul government buildings, and are being greeted warmly by their fellow citizens as they patrol in Najaf.
"See, these brave Iraqis are stepping up. They are setting an example for their fellow citizens. They are staying in the fight, taking the battle to the terrorists and Saddam holdouts," the president said. "They are securing a future of liberty and opportunity for their children and their grandchildren. And when the history of modern Iraq is written, the people of Iraq will know their freedom was finally secured by the courage and by the determination of Iraqi patriots."
More violence can be expected in Iraq, Bush acknowledged. "As the interim government assumes authority and Iraqi security forces defend their country, our coalition will play a supporting role," he said. "And this is an essential part of our strategy for success." The people responsible for the violence, he added, are friends of neither the coalition nor the Iraqi people.
"Terrorists who attack a self-governing Iraq are showing us and the Iraqis who they really are," Bush said. "They're not fighting foreign forces; they're fighting the Iraqi people. They're not just enemies of America; they are enemies of democracy and hope. They are enemies of a peaceful future in Iraq."
Iraq's prime minister, the president noted, said last week that anyone involved in these attacks is a traitor to the cause of Iraq's freedom and the freedom of its people.
"The prime minister and I share the same resolve. The traitors will be defeated," Bush said. "Their greatest fear is an Iraqi government of, by and for the Iraqi people. And no matter what the terrorists plan -- no matter what they attempt -- a democratic, free Iraq is on the way."
The United States also is helping Iraqis rebuild their country's infrastructure, the president said, pointing to the successful rebuilding of Germany from the rubble of World War II despite many difficulties.
"We overcame many obstacles because we knew that the only hope for a secure America was a peaceful and democratic Europe," he said. "And because we persevered, because we had faith in our values, because we were strong in the face of adversity, Germany became the stable, successful, great nation that it is today."
Bush listed a litany of successes in Iraq, and again vowed that terrorists would not derail continued progress. "The terrorists will fail. They will fail because the Iraqi people will not accept a return to tyranny. The terrorists will fail because the resolve of an America and our allies will not be shaken. And the terrorists will fail because courageous men and women like you are standing in their way," he told his worldwide military audience.
The president cited the difficulty of the mission and the work that lies ahead, and expressed gratitude to service members and their families for their sacrifices.
"Many of you have faced long deployments, sometimes longer than you expected. You miss your families; your families miss you. Some of you have lost comrades, good men and women you will never forget, and America will never forget them either," Bush said.
"You're sacrificing greatly for our country, and our country has needed that sacrifice," he continued. "By standing for the cause of freedom, you are making the world more peaceful. By fighting terrorists abroad, you are making the American people more secure here at home. And by acting in the best traditions of duty and honor, you are making our country and your commander in chief incredibly proud."
U.S. Deputy Defense Sec. Wolfowitz in Iraq
American and Iraqi leaders meeting in Baghdad early today came up with at least two major areas in which they agree completely -- the nature of the threat in Iraq and the political track to a representative, elected government.
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is in Baghdad at the head of a high- level coalition delegation meeting with leaders of the new interim Iraqi government to discuss security-related issues.
A senior U.S. defense official speaking on background described the results of today's consultations. He said future delegations might be formed to discuss issues including the economy and foreign relations, but today's meetings were limited to the country's security situation.
The official stressed the parties expected to come to no decisions on details today, but rather to give the new Iraqi officials a chance to describe their positions and to find areas of common ground.
Two areas of "striking" agreement between the parties are the nature of the threat facing the Iraqi people and the political track forward, the official explained.
"They see the threat precisely the same way we do, and also they see the political process unfolding the way we do," he said.
Regarding the nature of the threat, both sides agree that a Shiia extremist group personified by Muqtada al-Sadr has been part of the security problem, and that Sadr "has been significantly beaten back where he's now holed up in Najaf and Kufa."
Both Iraqi and coalition officials also recognize there is a Sunni extremist group that generally includes former-regime elements and is loosely associated with foreign fighters. This group generally finds sanctuary in Fallujah.
"The purpose of getting a common threat assessment is that then you can take it a step further and sort of lay out what your requirements are to deal with that threat," the official said.
The other area of agreement was on the political track. The DoD official said Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is committed to "a good solid, sound adherence to transition to administrative law."
Wolfowitz was joined on the coalition team by Kevin Tebbit, the United Kingdom's permanent undersecretary of state for defense; U.S. Army Gen. George W. Casey, vice chief of staff for the U.S. Army, who has been nominated as the next head of Multinational Force Iraq; U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command; U.S. Navy Rear Adm. James A. Robb, U.S. Central Command's civil affairs chief; and a representative of the Polish government.
Iraqi officials attending were Allawi, Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan, Interior Minister Falah al-Nakib, and National Security Adviser Muwaffak al-Rabaiee.
Projections for Iraq Post-Sovereignty Transfer
U.S. and coalition military responsibilities will not end with the June 30 transfer of power in Iraq, U.S. Defense Department officials told members of the U.S. House Armed Service Committee here today.
However, they also stated that U.S. troops would be pulled from the country if asked by the new sovereign government.
During hearings to discuss the status of U.S. forces in Iraq after the June 30 handover, Army Lt. Gen. Walter L. Sharp, Joint Staff director for strategic plans and policy, said multinational forces will remain in Iraq only at the invitation of the Iraqi people and with the authorization of the United Nations. The general added that the United States has the backing of Iraq's interim government and the United Nations for a security presence in the country.
He told the committee that Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's letter to the U.N. Security Council from the interim government formed the basis for authorizing the continued presence of the multinational force in the country. Sharp also cited the U.N. Security Council resolution passed unanimously earlier this month.
Resolution 1546 states that "the multinational force shall have the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq," he said. "UNSCR 1546 further requires that arrangements are put in place to establish a security partnership between the sovereign government of Iraq and the multinational force and to ensure coordination between the two," he continued.
Peter W. Rodman, assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs, told the committee that U.S. troops will leave if asked by Iraq's new government.
"We would not stay if the Iraqi government asked us to leave," he said. "UNSCR 1546, in a preambular paragraph, recognizes the importance of the consent of the sovereign government of Iraq for the presence of the multinational force. The same applies to any U.S. troop presence." However, he added, the question of U.S. troops leaving Iraq has not been raised often by Iraqis.
"Right now --as the categorical statements of Iraqi leaders make clear --Iraqis are more interested in reassurance that we will stay," he said. "Although we obviously would not stay if the Iraqi people do not want us to, right now millions of Iraqis are afraid that we might leave prematurely."
Enemies of a free and sovereign Iraq are using that fear, he said. "It is a fear that the enemy plays on with posters and rumors and black propaganda, saying that the Americans will leave as they did before and hand the country back to the enemy who abused it for so long and its terrorist allies," Rodman said. "Therefore, we need to be careful in answering this question. We must send two strong messages to the Iraqi people at the same time: That we are committed to stay until Iraq is ready to defend itself, and that we are committed to leave, and will do so happily, as soon as that job is done."
But Rodman also stressed that any premature departure of international troops would lead to chaos and the "real possibility" of civil war.
"This would cause a humanitarian crisis and provide a foothold for terrorists to launch their evil campaign in our country and beyond our borders," he said. "The continued presence of the multinational force will help preserve Iraq's unity, prevent regional intervention in our affairs and protect our borders at this critical stage of our reconstruction."
In explaining the U.S. role, Sharp told the committee that U.S. forces, and "increasingly" Iraqi forces, will continue to conduct offensive operations to "defeat remaining anti-Iraqi forces and neutralize destabilizing influences in Iraq in order to create a secure environment in which the Iraqi people can build their own future."
Sharp said U.S. forces will continue current efforts to organize, train, equip, mentor, and certify "credible and capable" Iraqi security forces to continue the transition of responsibility for security from multinational forces to Iraqi forces.
In the meantime, Sharp told the committee, multinational military personnel have made significant progress in recruiting, training and equipping Iraqi security forces, adding that the Iraqi people have "stepped forward."
"More than 225,000 Iraqi citizens have taken positions in the various components of the Iraqi security forces," he said.
That number, he said, includes 90,000 serving in the Iraqi Police Service, 18,000 in the Department of Border Enforcement, 37,500 in the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, 9,750 in the Iraqi armed forces and 74,000 in the Facilities Protection Service.
Sharp added that based on current training and equipping schedules, he anticipates that the Department of Border Enforcement, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Facilities Protection Service will be fully trained and equipped by September, the Iraqi armed forces by December, and the Iraqi police by June 2005.
He said that by the end of June, over $3 billion will have been committed for Iraqi Security Forces equipment, infrastructure and training.
Sharp also testified that Iraqi and multinational forces will continue to conduct stability operations to support the evolving Iraqi government, the restoration of essential services, and economic development.
He added that multinational forces will work in close consultation and coordination with the Iraqi government at all levels, and that he is confident the partnership will work.
"We -- the Iraqis, the coalition, and the U.S. armed forces -- will succeed in establishing a safe and secure environment in Iraq."
AIAC Supports "National Aerospace Forum"
According to its chairman, the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) welcomed yesterday the proposal of the Honourable Gary Doer, Premier of Manitoba, to create a National Aerospace Forum where industry and government leaders could meet to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the Canadian aerospace industry and design a co-ordinated and effective policy approach.
David Caddey, a senior executive with MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates of Vancouver and the Chairman of the AIAC stated, “The aerospace industry is Canada’s leading advanced technology exporter, employing 80,000 skilled men and women from coast to coast, including some 5,000 here in Manitoba. Premier Doer understands that Canadian firms operate in a fast-changing market that is global, increasingly political and intensely competitive."
The AIAC says it applauds Doer's leadership in calling for a National Aerospace Forum.
"We will be promoting the merits of the concept with key aerospace industry stakeholders right across the country, said Caddey.”
The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada is the national trade association of
Canada’s aerospace manufacturing and service
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