President George W. Bush says the Iraqi people have made "amazing progress" in their transition from Saddam Hussein's tyranny. In a speech on the current situation in Iraq, Mr. Bush cited Najaf, south of Baghdad, and Mosul, in northern Iraq, as two cities that have shown improvement:
"Residents are seeing tangible progress in their lives. They're gaining a personal stake in a peaceful future and their confidence in Iraq's democracy is growing. The progress in these cities is being replicated across much of Iraq. And more of Iraq's people are seeing the real benefits that a democratic society can bring."
The strategy to achieve victory in Iraq has three elements. The U.S. is helping Iraqis build democratic institutions that will protect their interests. The U.S. is helping Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure and reform their economy. And, said Mr. Bush, coalition and Iraqi security forces are on the offense against the enemy:
"We're clearing out areas controlled by the terrorists and Saddam loyalists, leaving Iraqi forces to hold territory taken from the enemy, and following up with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis rebuild their lives. And as we fight the terrorists, we're working to build capable and effective Iraqi security forces so they can take the lead in the fight and eventually take responsibility for the safety and security of their citizens without major foreign assistance."
The greatest challenge is to defeat those who are trying to destroy the progress the Iraqi people have made. The terrorists in Iraq, said President Bush, "share the same ideology as the terrorists who struck the United States on September 11th , blew up commuters in London and Madrid, murdered tourists in Bali, killed workers in Riyadh [Saudi Arabia] and slaughtered guests at a wedding in Amman, Jordan:
"This is an enemy without conscience. They cannot be appeased."
President Bush says defeating the terrorists in Iraq will help reduce a direct threat to the United States and its allies.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.