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6/17/03 - BREMER ON IRAQI RECONSTRUCTION - 2003-06-18


Ardelan Karim tried four times to escape from the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Now that Iraq is liberated, Mr. Karim told the New York Times newspaper: “Things have changed. There’s not the same fear. I didn’t see my future here before,” said Mr. Karim. “Now maybe I do.”

The U.S.-led coalition is working with the Iraqi people to put back together a country ravaged by political tyranny and economic mismanagement. But the scars in Iraq run deep. Ambassador Paul Bremer, director of the Coalition Provisional Authority, says that “repairing the damage of the last [Saddam Hussein] regime -- material, human and psychological -- is a huge task”:

“My guess is that it is going to be a substantial amount of time. Whether it is measured in months or years depends on developments.”

The first phase of the coalition’s efforts is already complete. Water and power have been largely restored. In many parts of Iraq, basic services exceed what they were before the war. The second phase of reconstruction says Mr. Bremer, “has as its main emphasis restoring economic activity [in Iraq]”:

“This economy was flat on its back before the war. It’s even in worse shape now. I couldn’t tell you what the unemployment rate is but it is certainly more than fifty-percent. My top priority now is to create jobs.”

It is going to take time and patience for the Iraqi people to form a new democratic government. But as the Iraqi newspaper Al Naba says: “For the first time in Iraq, democratic processes are put in place to elect government officials. Democratic elections are a new phenomenon in today’s Iraq. True democracy appears with the absence of dictatorship and tyranny.”

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