The people of Iraq are recovering from years of misrule by the regime of Saddam Hussein. But security is still a critical issue. And, “The Iraqi people,” says President George W. Bush, “are taking the brunt of most of these killings”:
“They also understand it’s their responsibility to secure the country, so we’ve increased in large numbers the number of police and people who are willing to help secure the country. More Iraqis are now coming forward. They realize the killings that are taking place -- sometimes maybe by foreign terrorists, obviously sometimes by former Baathist officials -- will not stop the march to freedom.”
Take the case of Haditha, a city of seventy-thousand people, located northwest of Baghdad, in the Iraqi desert.
In November, according to news accounts, gunmen charged into the local police station. They released prisoners and overcame police officers and stole their weapons. Today, there is a new police chief and residents feel safer. Noori Hassan, the imam of the Shahid Abdulaziz mosque, told the Boston Globe newspaper, “When the [local] authorities reasserted themselves, we felt a gradual, if slow, improvement.”
A key figure in Haditha is Hawash Khalaf Muteb, the mayor. Under his leadership, citizens have helped to rebuild collapsed institutions. The schools, which had been looted, have been repaired. Teachers helped to restore the classrooms and even donated money for construction projects.
As President Bush says, “Freedom is happening in Iraq”:
“And you’ve got to understand why it’s important. Freedom in the heart of the Middle East, freedom and democracy in the place that has bred resentment and terror, is in our national interest. A free Iraq will help change the world. A free Iraq will help change a neighborhood that needs to change.”
Despite continuing dangers and problems, change has come to Iraq and it’s come to Haditha. As Mayor Hawash likes to say, his city is “a model for all other cities.”