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7/26/03 - IRAQIS APPRECIATE FREEDOM - 2003-07-28

The U.S.-led coalition has liberated twenty-five million people in Iraq from the regime of Saddam Hussein. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, said most Iraqis are thankful to be free.

On July 4th, shops and private homes in various parts of Iraq put up the American flag as a show of gratitude to the United States. As Khalid Kishtaini, one of Iraq’s leading novelists, said, “We see our liberation as the start of a friendship with the U.S. and the [United Kingdom] that should last a thousand years. The U.S. and the U-K showed that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Nothing can change that.”

Mr. Bremer says that the violence that continues to plague Iraq is limited to a small geographic area and does not have popular support:

“There were tens of thousands of people in the Republican Guards and the Fedayeen Saddam and they are concentrated in an area which is where Saddam had his traditional political and tribal support, a small area between Tikrit, which is Saddam’s hometown, and Baghdad in the south. That’s where eighty-five percent of the attacks against American forces have taken place since June 1st. So it’s a small area of the country we’re dealing with.”

The political and social infrastructure in Iraq is continuing to improve. Sixty-seven of Iraq’s cities and eighty-five percent of the smaller towns now have fully functioning municipal governments. Most hospitals are running again with essential supplies trickling in for the first time since 1999. Moreover, most of Iraq’s primary and secondary schools and all but two of its biggest universities are open again.

Iraqis continue to have concerns about their future. But as Baghdad geologist Mohsen Saleh said, “After we have aired our grievances we remember the essential point: Saddam is gone.”