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5/27/03 - PROGRESS IN IRAQ - 2003-05-28

No country that has made the transition from tyranny to a civil society has done it without overcoming difficulties. Iraq is no exception. There has been looting. There have been disruptions in basic services such as electricity, water, and police. And there has been a leadership vacuum since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

But, said U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “There is some good news coming out of Iraq”:

“Each day we get reports of problems and also of things that are working.”

Sixty-five percent of children living in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, are back in school. In the Iraqi cities of Basra, Umm Qasr, Safwan, and Nasiriyah, UNICEF is distributing enough supplies to outfit each school for one year. An Iraqi committee of Shiites, Sunnis, and others is revising the curriculum so that schools that once taught obedience to an oppressive regime can begin preparing students to live in a democratic society.

The Iraqi infrastructure, said Mr. Rumsfeld, is also being restored:

“Residential electric customers in the north and south of Iraq have more electric service today than at any time in the past twelve years. In Basra, operation Leak Stop began on May 14th, with a team of Iraqi plumbers moving through the city repairing leaks in water pipes, which has been a fairly continuous problem because of the degradation of the infrastructure.”

In addition, in the Iraqi city of Mosul, elections were held. Residents chose a mayor and, out of more than two-hundred candidates, twenty-three delegates to the town council. In Baghdad, four-thousand-five-hundred Iraqi police are on duty, and courts are again in session.

The coalition is committed to working with the United Nations and the Iraqi people to restore security and stability as quickly and effectively as possible. As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, “There are challenges in Iraq, let there be no doubt about that, but [despite] the challenges to be faced, conditions in Iraq are improving.”