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7/13/03 - DEVELOPMENTS IN IRAQ - 2003-07-17


In Iraq, there are now dozens of independent newspapers freely expressing a wide range of opinions. Vendors in Baghdad are selling videotapes detailing the atrocities that took place in Saddam Hussein’s prisons. And town councils and associations are forming where people can speak openly without fear of arrest.

On July 8th, the members of the new Baghdad municipal council met. Lawrence Di Rita, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman, says that the council meeting is the most important event since the day that coalition forces entered the city and the regime of Saddam Hussein came to an end:

“This council will provide a forum for Baghdad’s citizens to discuss important local issues. The thirty-seven-person council will also offer advice and suggestions to the coalition and to the city’s municipal and ministry administrators as they manage basic services for the residents of the city.”

But some Iraqis are not better off -- those who benefited most from the dictatorship. They are unhappy that the regime that favored them has been removed from power. Today some of them are in hiding. Others are engaged in sabotage and violence. They will be found and brought to justice.

Without question, there is a lot more work to be done in Iraq. But as President George W. Bush said, the U.S.-led coalition will stay the course:

“The true monuments of Saddam Hussein’s rule have been brought to light -- the mass graves, the torture chambers, the jail cells for children. And now we are moving forward with the reconstruction of that country by restoring basic services, maintaining order, searching for the hidden weapons, and helping Iraqis to establish a representative government.”

“There will be no return to tyranny in Iraq,” said President Bush. “And those who threaten the order and stability of that country will face ruin, just as surely as the regime they once served.”

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