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9/18/03 - CHENEY ON IRAQ - 2003-09-22

The threat posed by al-Qaida and others continues. As Vice President Dick Cheney said, the same network that trained the terrorists who murdered people in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas is attempting to harm the democratic future of Iraq:

“This is a global enemy that struck in not only New York and Washington but in Bali and Jakarta, in Mombassa, in Casablanca, and Riyadh since [September 11, 2001]. And the fact of the matter is there were thousands of people that went through those training camps in Afghanistan. We know they are seeking deadlier weapons -- chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons if they can get it.”

Mr. Cheney said that there was a connection between the regime of Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida terrorist network. Members of the Iraqi regime trained al-Qaida operatives on the use of biological and chemical weapons. Iraqis also provided bomb-making expertise to al-Qaida members.

Today, the U.S. and some three-dozen other countries are helping Iraqis to create a stable democracy in which terrorists can find no haven. The biggest challenge remains establishing security in and around Baghdad. There have been attacks on coalition forces, the Jordanian embassy, and the United Nations delegation. The attacks have been carried out by common criminals, allies of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and terrorists from other countries.

But the reconstruction of Iraq is moving ahead in spite of the attacks. With some fifty-five thousand Iraqis serving as local police and border guards, Iraqis increasingly participate in providing security as well as governance, said Vice President Cheney:

“We’ve got Iraqis now in charge of each ministry in the government. Over ninety-percent of the cities and towns and villages of Iraq are now governed by democratically elected or appointed local councils. We’ve got all the schools open; we’ve got all the hospitals up and functioning. We’re making major progress in restoring electricity to pre-war levels.”

The U.S. and its coalition allies are in Iraq as liberators. They will work with the Iraqi people to establish and maintain security. And they will stay only as long as it takes for Iraqis to establish a stable and legitimate government.