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2005 In Iraq

"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." Those are the words of President George W. Bush, summarizing the important accomplishments that have been made in Iraq this past year.

Three years ago, Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein, a ruthless dictator who murdered and tortured thousands of Iraqis, launched attacks on his neighbors, and allowed Iraq to fall into a dilapidated state. Those dark and painful days ended in 2003, when a U.S.-led international coalition overthrew the dictator.

Since then, the Iraqi people have been working to bring peace, stability, and democracy to their country. In January 2005, Iraqis held free and fair elections for an interim government. In October, they approved a constitution in a nationwide referendum. And in December, the Iraqi people voted for a permanent government under their new constitution. President Bush says, "It's a remarkable transformation for a country that has virtually no experience with democracy".

As the Iraqi people struggle to build on their democracy, former Saddam Hussein loyalists and terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida are still trying to stop them. The Iraqi people have endured bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, and other terrorist acts, but the United States, says Mr. Bush, will continue to "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."

"The Iraqi people," says President Bush, ‚ÄĚhave 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.