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7/22/03 - STABILIZING IRAQ - 2003-07-23

For the first time in three decades, the people of Iraq have the hope of creating a better future for themselves. A diverse group of twenty-five leaders, including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, a Christian, and a Turkmen, has been selected for an Iraqi governing council.

With the governing council, Iraqis are taking the first steps toward self-government. The council will appoint ministers, come up with a budget, and start the process by which Iraqis will write a new constitution.

As White House spokesman Scott McClellan says, the U.S.-led coalition is “making some important progress in Iraq”:

“There are still some difficulties. There are still some loyalists to Saddam Hussein and his former regime, Baathists and others from outside the country that are trying to disrupt these successes. They oftentimes will target the success that we are making.”

Attacks by remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime have been made against local Iraqi officials, coalition soldiers, and power plants. As White House spokesman McClellan put it, as Iraq continues “to move forward, there will be people who [will] try to undermine the success”:

“We’re focused on the security side of things. That remains a very high priority, stabilizing and securing the country. But we will stay there as long as it takes to move Iraq to a free and democratic country. And an important aspect of that, too, is that a free and democratic Iraq will help bring peace and stability to the Middle East, which is very important to building a safer country, a safer world.”

“The world will see eventually as freedom spreads,” said President Bush, “what Saddam Hussein did to the mentality of the Iraqi people.... And slowly, but surely, the people of Iraq are learning the responsibility that comes with being a free society.”