Thousands of Iraqis peacefully demonstrated to mark the second anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein. They marched to Baghdad's Firdos Square where U.S. and Iraqi forces pulled down a large statue of the former Iraqi dictator in April 2003.
The marchers called for a speedy trial for Saddam Hussein and for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Some of the demonstrators chanted, "Yes to Islam and no to America or Saddam." Amer Shihab, a university student from the southern Iraqi city of Kut, told a reporter, "Iraq now has enough competent forces to maintain security by itself." But Jalal Talabani, Iraq's new president, says that U.S. and other coalition forces are still needed to help provide security:
"I think within two years we can do it, and at the same time we will remain in full consultation and coordination with our American friends who came to liberate our country."
President Talabani says that the new government is open to all of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups:
"When we struggle for a democratic Iraq, this must be based on full equality for all Iraqis, and the Kurds are one of the important parts of the Iraqi people. Of course they have the right to receive any kind of post they deserve. The new democratic Iraq will be free from discrimination and from religious oppression."
As President Bush has said, "The Iraqi people have shown their commitment to democracy [and the U.S.] is committed to Iraq."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.