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8/13/03 - 100 DAYS OF PROGRESS IN IRAQ - 2003-08-13

It has been just over one hundred days since the end of major combat operations in Iraq. As President George W. Bush said, the U.S. and over twenty other countries are working to make Iraq more secure:

"Coalition forces remain on the offensive against the Baath Party loyalists and foreign terrorists who are trying to prevent order and stability. More and more Iraqis are coming forward with specific information as to the whereabouts of these violent thugs, enabling us to carry out raids to round them up and seize stockpiles of weapons."

The coalition is working with Iraqis to establish a new Iraqi army and police force. Banks have reopened. More than a million barrels of crude oil and over two million gallons of gasoline are being produced daily. As President Bush said, Iraq is moving toward the free society its people were long denied:

"Life is returning to normal for the Iraqi people -- hospitals and universities have opened, and in many places, water and other utility services are reaching pre-war levels. Across Iraq, nearly all schoolchildren have completed their exams. And for the first time in many years, a free press is at work in Iraq."

Most important of all, said President Bush; the Iraqi people are taking steps toward self-government:

"The Iraqi Governing Council, whose twenty-five members represent all of that diverse country, is meeting regularly, naming ministers and drawing up a budget for the country. Soon, representatives of the people will begin drafting a new constitution and free elections will follow. Freedom is taking hold in that country, as people gain confidence that the former regime is never coming back."

One hundred days is not enough time to undo the terrible legacy of Saddam Hussein. But as President Bush said, "for the people of Iraq, this has been a period like none other in the country's history, a time of change and rising hopes after decades of tyranny."