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10/4/03 - MANY IRAQIS HOPEFUL - 2003-10-06

When the year began, Iraq was under the control of Saddam Hussein. The brutal dictator was holding the Iraqi people in poverty and ignorance, while filling mass graves with those who challenged him. Saddam Hussein ruled over what author Kanan Makiya termed a “Republic of Fear.” But thanks to the U.S.-led coalition, says U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Saddam Hussein is gone:

“He will invade now no more neighbors, torture no more innocents, and fill no more mass graves. I am proud of the role that we played in ending the horrors of Saddam Hussein. I am proud that today, we see a republic of hope replacing the republic of fear.”

On his recent visit to Iraq, Secretary of State Powell said he was “deeply impressed by the spirit. . .among the Iraqi people.”

Part of that spirit is a hopefulness reflected in a new poll of more than a thousand Iraqis in Baghdad. More than sixty percent of the Iraqis privately interviewed by the Gallup poll say that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth any hardships they have endured since then. And two-thirds of the Baghdad respondents say they believe Iraq will be in better shape five years from now than it was before the invasion. Only eight percent say they expect things to be worse.

The Gallup poll also makes it clear that many people in Baghdad are not happy with the way things are going at the moment. Nearly half the respondents say they think the country is worse off than before the war, while only a third say it is in better shape.

Such concerns are undoubtedly fueled by ongoing terrorist attacks in Iraq. Secretary of State Powell says that security “remains a problem”:

". . .lives continue to be lost to Baathist regime remnants, common criminals, and terrorists, who would return Iraq to its tragic past. We will not let these assassins of hope succeed.”

The U.S. is confident, says Secretary of State Powell, that coalition troops “and the Iraqi security forces, as they are built up, will be able to deal with these enemies of peace.”