In a statement broadcast to the people of Iraq, President George W. Bush said the U.S.-led coalition has made great progress in its effort to remove the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. And once the regime is gone, the government and the future of Iraq will belong to the Iraqi people. Mr. Bush spoke to them directly:
"You are a good and gifted people, the heirs of a great civilization that contributes to all humanity. You deserve better than tyranny and corruption and torture chambers. You deserve to live as free people. And I assure every citizen of Iraq: your nation will soon be free."
"Free," said Mr. Bush, "to build a better life instead of building more palaces for Saddam and his sons. Free to pursue economic prosperity without the hardship of economic sanctions. Free to travel and speak your mind. Free to join in the political affairs of the nation. And all the people who make up Iraq -- Kurds, Shia, Turkmen, Sunnis and others -- will be free of the terrible persecution that so many have endured."
Although more fighting lies ahead, the U.S.-led coalition has begun the process of aiding the Iraqi people by delivering food, water, and medicine to those in need. President Bush told the Iraqi people that they "are no longer held captive to the will of a cruel dictator."
"Coalition forces will help maintain law and order so that Iraqis can live in security. We will respect your great religious traditions, whose principles of equality and compassion are essential to Iraq's future. We will help you build a peaceful and representative government, that protects the rights of all citizens. And then, our military forces will leave."
As President Bush told the Iraqi people, "The long era of fear and cruelty is ending."