Iraq is making progress toward establishing democratic institutions despite an ongoing campaign of terrorist violence. The country's transitional national assembly recently picked Jalal Talabani, an Iraqi Kurd, as president; Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shiite, was named prime minister; and Hajim al-Hassani, a Sunni, was chosen as speaker of the assembly. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that Iraqis are now shaping their own future:
"Today, Iraqis at all levels, from the Town Council in Fallujah to the Iraqi President, now feel that they are in charge of their own destiny and they are not waiting and sitting back. In the midst of the tough security situation that they face, they are engaging in a democratic process and things are moving in the right direction. This is going to be an important year for them as they write a constitution and then hold national elections in December. The Iraqis need, want and deserve our support."
President George W. Bush says that in the two years since a U.S.-led coalition toppled Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, the Iraqi people have shown bravery and determination as they work to rebuild their country:
"Iraqis have laid the foundations of a free society, with hundreds of independent newspapers and dozens of political parties and associations, and schools that teach Iraqi children how to read and write, instead of the propaganda of Saddam Hussein... Iraqis have laid the foundation for a society built on the rule of law. Today, courts are functioning across Iraq, and hundreds of independent Iraqi judges have been trained in Bahrain and Jordan and the Czech Republic and Britain and Italy. An Iraqi special tribunal has been established that will try [former] senior leadership [on trial], including Saddam Hussein."
Remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime and Islamic terrorists continue their attempts to drive the coalition out of Iraq and prevent the emergence of Iraqi democracy. "The Iraqi people," said Mr. Bush, "still face brutal and determined enemies." But "like free people everywhere," said President Bush, "Iraqis want to be defended and led by their own countrymen. We will help them achieve this objective so Iraqis can secure their own nation."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.