In a speech marking the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush said coalition forces carried out that mission "with great courage and skill." As a result, he said, "today the world is rid of Saddam Hussein and a tyrant has been held to account for his crimes by his own people":
"Nearly twelve million Iraqis have voted in free elections under a democratic constitution that they wrote for themselves. And their democratic leaders are now working to build a free society that upholds the rule of law, that respects the rights of its people, that provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror."
The most important mission now, said Mr. Bush, is helping the Iraqis secure their capital:
"Until Baghdad's citizens feel secure in their own homes and neighborhoods, it will be difficult for Iraqis to make further progress toward political reconciliation or economic rebuilding, steps necessary for Iraq to build a democratic society. So with our help, Iraq's government is carrying out an aggressive plan to secure Baghdad."
Mr. Bush said that while the operation to secure Baghdad is in its early stages, there are hopeful signs. Iraq's government has deployed three Iraqi army brigades to the capital. They have joined the seven Iraqi army brigades and nine national police brigades that are already in the area.
Iraq's government has also lifted restrictions that prevented Iraqi and coalition forces from going into areas of Baghdad like Sadr City. U.S. and Iraqi forces have established joint security stations throughout Baghdad to help Iraqis reclaim their neighborhoods from extremists. U.S. and Iraqi forces have carried out aggressive operations against both Shia and Sunni extremists, including al Qaeda terrorists.
Meanwhile, Iraq's Council of Ministers has approved a law that would allow oil revenues to be shared among the Iraqi people. The Iraqi legislature passed a budget that includes ten billion dollars for reconstruction. And Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently visited Ramadi, a city in the Sunni heartland, to reach out to local Sunni tribal leaders.
"Four years after this war began," said President Bush, "the fight is difficult, but it can be won. It will be won," he said, "if we have the courage and resolve to see it through."