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In their zeal to set Iraq's majority Shi'a and minority Sunni Muslims against each other and destabilize the country, violent extremists have executed a series of suicide bombing attacks against Shi'a civilians during their annual pilgrimage to the city of Karbala. More than 100 pilgrims died and hundreds more were injured.
It's all about the March 7th parliamentary elections. Because if the people of Iraq come together and vote for a representative government of their choice, if they are satisfied that their voices will be heard and their concerns will be addressed, then they will have elected a government that works for all Iraqis, irrespective of their ideological or religious differences.
Under such a government, dialog is possible between representatives of Iraqis of Arabic and Kurdish descent, Assyrians and Turkmen; Shi'a, Sunnis, Yezidis, Christians. Dialog builds bridges over differences, allows former adversaries to find their commonality and resolve old disagreement. Dialog leaves little room for extremism and the politics of divisiveness and hatred.
A truly representative government, one that is well balanced and responsive to the electorate, whose members are well-versed in the needs of the people they represent, and how to go about fulfilling those needs; such a government is many years in the making, fine-tuned year by year, election after election, constantly learning from experience and changing to meet the challenge of governing a people in motion. It is a work in progress. The Iraqi people must not lose time. They must continue to build such a government. Those who would kill to get their way must not be allowed to stop this process.
"The United States condemns the series of bombing attacks against Shi'a pilgrims in Iraq over the past week," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a written statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Attacking men, women and children engaged in religious pilgrimage is reprehensible and exposes the cynical immorality of the terrorists who seek to replace Iraq's hard-won progress with violence and intimidation," she said.
"They will not succeed in breaking the will of the Iraqi people. Iraqis are committed to realizing the promise of their democracy. There is no better rebuke to those who traffic in terror."