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10/24/03 - IRAQIS SUPPORT COALITION - 2003-10-24

“Praises be to God. It’s finally safe to come out again.” Those are the words of Haider Saffa, an Iraqi salesman who is now free to speak his mind without fear of being arrested by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Saffa isn’t the only one in Baghdad who is happy about Iraq’s liberation. The Gallup Poll reports that more than seventy percent of Iraqis surveyed in Baghdad want coalition troops to remain to ensure that the abuses of Saddam Hussein will not be repeated. Nearly sixty percent of Iraqis polled say that the U.S. and other troops “have behaved fairly well.”

Richard Burkholder, director of international polling for Gallup, told the Washington Times newspaper that the biggest surprise “may have been public reaction to the questioners, who visited Iraqis in their homes...with some people following questioners around the streets begging for a chance to give their opinions.”

More than thirty countries are now helping to stabilize Iraq by contributing military forces, says President George W. Bush:

“And that includes the good people of Iraq. The first battalion of the new Iraqi army completed its training. Within the year, Iraq will have [a] forty-thousand member military force. Tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens are guarding their own borders, they’re defending vital facilities, and they’re policing their own streets. Normal Iraqis want Iraq to be secure and peaceful.”

The coalition is committed to helping the Iraqi people create a self-governing society in Iraq. The country now has a governing council and interim cabinet ministers. And once a constitution has been written, Iraq will move toward it first free elections. The coalition will remain in Iraq only as long as necessary. Ban Saraf, an Iraqi-American who is advising Iraqis on developing self-government, says that “When they say it’s an occupation...I get frustrated with that. Every day without Saddam is a blessing.”