President George Bush recently visited Iraq in order to sign two remarkable political agreements. The first is the Security Agreement. This document authorizes American troops and U.S. Defense Department officials to continue protecting and supporting Iraq's democracy once the United Nations mandate expires at the end of the year.
The agreement also lays out a framework for the withdrawal of American forces in Iraq -- a withdrawal that is possible because of the great security improvements brought about by the accomplishments of Iraqi Security Forces and their U.S. and other Coalition partners.
"This is a remarkable document," said U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, "I think the only one there is in the Arab world, debated and discussed in an elected parliament, and then adopted." Mr. Hadley said the Security Agreement is a "terrific example" of the political progress and maturity that Iraq has achieved.
A second agreement that helps cement the strategic partnership between Iraq and the U.S. is the Strategic Framework Agreement. It formalizes a relationship of friendship and cooperation between the U.S. and Iraq in the economic, diplomatic, cultural, and security fields. Under this agreement, said President Bush, "we will work together to bring greater stability to Iraq and the region, as well as promote trade and investment between our two nations. We will work to strengthen democratic institutions."
Increased capacity of Iraqi Security Forces and the surge in U.S. forces have met their objectives and made the political and security progress in Iraq possible. "Today," said President Bush, "violence is down dramatically. Al Qaida is driven from its safe havens. Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds are sitting together at the same table to peacefully chart the future of this country."
The vision of a strong, capable, and democratic Iraq that will be a force for freedom and peace in the heart of the Middle East is becoming a reality. By signing the Security Agreement and the Strategic Framework Agreement, the U.S., said President Bush, "is showing the people of Iraq that the United States of America keeps its word. And we are showing the people of the Middle East that America stands firmly for liberty and justice and peace."