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7/27/03 - BREMER ON IRAQ SECURITY - 2003-07-28

Twenty-five million Iraqis have been liberated by the U.S.-led coalition. Thirty-seven countries have pledged almost three billion dollars to rebuild Iraq. In recent weeks, new currency has been issued and a new budget approved. And a new governing council of Iraqis has been established.

But, says Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, problems remain. Especially with a group he calls “bitter-enders”:

“What we are faced here with is a small group of killers, trained killers, who are trying to turn back the tide of history in Iraq. And the tide of history is flowing towards democracy. These are people who are ex-Baathists, Fedayeen Saddam, ex-people in the intelligence community there, and we simply have to overpower them, and we will.”

Mr. Bremer says that several steps have been taken to improve security in Iraq:

“First, we started recruiting this week for a new Iraqi army. We will, within a year, have about a division of forces there. That will be a defensive armed force not involved in domestic policing. Secondly, we have opened a police academy and we are trying to recruit some sixty-five thousand police in the course of the next eighteen months to basically do policing in the cities. Thirdly, we are going to begin to stand up a border guard force, made up of Iraqis, to help us defend the borders and, most importantly, to raise an Iraqi civil defense corps, which will be made up of Iraqis who will be under American military command to help us basically with the armed part of the work we are doing.”

Mr. Bremer says that Iraqis are better equipped than coalition forces to identify those who are trying to sabotage efforts to rebuild Iraq and create a representative Iraqi government:

“Intelligence really is the heart of the matter here. We’ve got to know who these people are, and then we’ve got to seek them out and either capture them or kill them.”

The coalition has got “some hard work ahead,” said Mr. Bremer, “but we’ve come a long way already.”