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Iraqis Defend Their Government

Appearing in a video, Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaida in Iraq, criticized the formation of Iraq's new government. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "The answer to the Zarqawi video is not anything that the United States can say, it's what the Iraqis are saying in having formed a government of national unity despite all the threats and all of the violence."

Khalid al-Attiyah, the newly chosen first deputy speaker in the Iraqi parliament, told a reporter he believes that Zarqawi "was caught off guard by the new government taking shape because it will be [a] very strong one representing all Iraqis." Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi, an aide to Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq's interim prime minister, said the terrorists "are feeling this might be the last chance they have to survive. They are fighting everyone in Iraq. Every Iraqi," he says, thinks "that shows how weak they [the terrorists] are."

Jawad al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister-designate and a Shiite, says, "If we can reach unity between all the components of the people, the canals of terrorism will dry up." Other members of Iraq's new government include Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni, who will serve as speaker of the parliament. Jalal Talabani, an Iraqi Kurd, will continue as Iraq's president.

President George W. Bush says Iraq's new government is "the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship with the Iraqi people":

"I had the opportunity to speak to the three leaders -- the president, the speaker, and the prime minister-designate. I congratulated them on their courage and encouraged them to stand strong for the Iraqi people. I reminded them the people had voted, the people had expressed their desire for democracy and unity, and now there's a chance for these leaders to stand up and lead."

"A free Iraq will be a part of laying the peace for generations to come," says Mr. Bush. "And," he says, "a free Iraq will be a major defeat for the terrorists."

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