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7/11/03 - RESTORING IRAQ - 2003-07-11

There is an enormous job to do in Iraq. Damage during the war was comparatively light, thanks to careful targeting and the use of precision weapons. The real problems are a result of decades of misrule, neglect, and abuse by the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein.

Since Iraq’s liberation three months ago, the U.S.-led coalition has committed almost a billion dollars for relief and reconstruction. When the coalition arrived in Baghdad, there was a complete power blackout. Today thirty-nine thousand electrical workers are back on the job and power is being restored. It is estimated that by the end of July, power production in Iraq will reach about four-thousand megawatts, the level before the war. More power will become available as the system is modernized.

U.S. General Carl Strock, deputy director of operations for the Coalition’s Provisional Authority, says that commerce is also resuming in Iraq:

“The port of Umm Qasr is open and, in fact, has a higher capacity than it’s had in many years. We’re dredging the port, removing wrecks, and we’re got it pretty much down to twelve-and-a-half meters. So we can get deep-draft vessels in and bring in relief supplies and begin to stimulate the economy.”

Not everything is going smoothly. Remnants of the old regime are trying to make things difficult. General Strock says that “There have been attacks, and this is not surprising or unexpected”:

“As conditions improve, the opposition is going to get more and more desperate in their attempt to destabilize the economy and to discredit the coalition and our efforts here to put the nation back on its feet. I think these saboteurs fail to recognize that these are really viewed by the Iraqis as attacks on the Iraqi people, not on the coalition.”

There is still a lot of work to do in Iraq. But one thing is certain: Saddam Hussein’s regime is gone and it is not going to come back. With the coalition’s help, the Iraqi people have won back their country.