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4/16/03 - RESTORING IRAQ TO ITS PEOPLE - 2003-04-17

In recent days, the world has been watching the Saddam Hussein tyranny pass into history. But that is only the first step in restoring Iraq to its people, said U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld:

“We have to stamp out these pockets of resistance that exist. We have then a great deal of work to go out and look for weapons of mass destruction and explore these sites and to find terrorists and the terrorist areas that we know of.”

At the same time, the U.S. and other members of the coalition have begun a massive humanitarian effort. Water, food, and medical supplies are already being distributed to Iraqis, and there is much more on the way. Coalition doctors, nurses, and medics are helping to treat sick and wounded Iraqis.

Meanwhile, preparations are underway for the Iraqi people to determine how their new government will be organized. Already, a meeting of liberated Iraqis, members of the Iraqi opposition, and representatives from the Future of Iraq Project has taken place near Nasiriyah. They discussed the visions Iraqis have for their future and how best to chart a course toward a democratic government. There will be more meetings of Iraqis, and they will begin to figure out how to fashion an interim authority. After that, Iraqis will move on to drafting a constitution with a mechanism for selecting a permanent government. One thing is clear: the Iraqi people are capable of setting up a free government that will suit their country’s unique conditions.

As Saddam Hussein’s regime of fear is brought to an end, said President George W. Bush, “the people of Iraq are revealing the true hopes they have always held”:

“It should surprise no one that Iraqis, like all people, resent oppression and welcome their own freedom. It should surprise no one that in every nation and every culture, the human heart desires the same good things: dignity, liberty, and a chance to build a better life.”

“Freedom is the gift of God to all mankind,” said President Bush, “and [Americans] rejoice when others can share it. . . . Soon, the good and gifted people of Iraq will be free to choose leaders who respect their rights and reflect their character.”