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Iraq Overcomes Difficulties

Two and a half years ago, Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein. He was a cruel dictator who launched attacks on his neighbors, used weapons of mass destruction, and murdered many Iraqis. This year, Iraqis held free and fair elections for an interim government, and approved a constitution in a nationwide referendum; and voted for a permanent government under the new constitution on December 15. President George W. Bush says, "It's a remarkable transformation for a country that has virtually no experience with democracy":

"There's still a lot of difficult work to be done in Iraq, but thanks to the courage of the Iraqi people, the year 2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq, the history of the Middle East, and the history of freedom."

As the Iraqi people struggle to build a democracy, former Saddam Hussein loyalists and terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida are trying to stop them. The U.S., says Mr. Bush, will "help Iraqis fight these enemies":

"We're making steady progress. The Iraqi forces are becoming more and more capable. They're taking more responsibility for more and more territory."

Mr. Bush says "The Iraqi people have built momentum for freedom and democracy":

"They've encouraged those outside the process to come in. At every stage, there was enormous pressure to let the deadlines slide, with skeptics and pessimists declaring that Iraqis were not ready for self-government. At every stage, Iraqis proved the skeptics and pessimists wrong."

"Encouraging reconciliation and human rights in a society scarred by decades of arbitrary violence and sectarian division is not going to be easy and it's not going to happen overnight. Yet," says Mr. Bush, "the Iraqi government has a process in place to resolve even the most difficult issues through negotiation, debate and compromise."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.