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9/28/03 - COALITION INCLUDES IRAQ - 2003-09-30

The United States-led coalition is committed to helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and their own future. Currently, says U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, more than fifty-five-thousand Iraqis are working to provide security for their country:.

“That makes Iraqis the single largest member of the coalition after the United States. Those numbers are predominantly Iraqi police, some forty-thousand. We’ve started two new formations, the Iraqi Facilities Protection Service and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. By January we plan to have fifteen-thousand members of the Civil Defense Corps and twenty-thousand members of the Facilities Protection Service.”

The Iraqi people are also taking steps to make a representative government. The Governing Council has appointed ministers and begun the process of drafting the first Iraqi constitution. This transfer of power to the Iraqi people is taking place at the local level as well. Over ninety percent of Iraqi towns and provinces now have their own governing councils, including the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala.

Iraqis of all ethnic groups and religions are coming together to rebuild their country. The city council of Mosul includes Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrian Christians, and Yezidis. Mosul’s mayor is a Sunni Arab and former army commander who spent a year in prison and whose brother and cousin were murdered by the Saddam regime. He described the regime as “a ruthless gang that mistreated all Iraqis.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz says that in Mosul and elsewhere, Iraqis can now “turn their attention to more ordinary problems”:

“The sooner these terrorists and Baathists understand clearly that our will can’t be broken and that the Iraqi people, despite hardship and difficulty, will persevere in building their new society, the sooner we will win.”

Remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and outside terrorists, may target the coalition’s successes in Iraq. But, says Mr. Wolfowitz, “The real center of gravity will come from the Iraqi people themselves. They know who and where the criminals are. And they have the most at stake: their future.”