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4/10/04 - IRAQI SENTIMENT - 2004-04-12

The U.S.-led coalition is putting down violence by Iraqi extremists, mostly followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. A warrant for Sadr’s arrest has been issued for his role in the April 2003 murder of a respected Shiite cleric, Abdul Majid al-Khoei. Fighting is also continuing in the Sunni city of Fallujah, where four American civilians were brutally murdered and their bodies desecrated.

A statement issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric, calls upon Iraqis to abstain “from any provocative steps which will lead to more chaos and bloodshed.” And the Iraqi Governing Council issued a statement condemning the violence and calling on Iraqis to work toward democracy. Most Iraqis seem to agree.

According to a recent poll, seventy-eight percent of those surveyed say that attacks against coalition forces are unacceptable. Japan is a member of the U.S.-led coalition. As Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters, “Terrorists just want to create confusion.”

“What we’re witnessing today in Iraq,” says U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “is a power-play between those who favor terrorism and a return to oppression, and those determined to have freedom and self-government”:

“The terrorists, assassins are threatened by the Iraqi people’s progress toward self-government, because they know that they will have no future in a free Iraq. They know, as al-Qaida associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi put it in his letter recently, that we intercepted: ‘Democracy is coming’, he said, and there will be no excuse thereafter for their attacks. They know that the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people oppose them and that, given a free choice, the Iraqi people will choose the rule of law, not rule by murderers.”

Mr. Rumsfeld says that the U.S. “will stand resolute with the Iraqi people”:

“Those who may be fearful that our forces will leave when sovereignty transfers or before the job is done, you have nothing to fear. The United States will stay the course.”

There are those who don’t want Iraq to be free of fear and violence. The U.S.-led coalition will not allow them to succeed.