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5/19/04 - A CHANCE FOR IRAQ - 2004-05-20

Izzedin Salim, the president of Iraq’s Governing Council, was murdered in a suicide bombing. He had returned to Iraq from exile to help the Iraqi people build a democratic country. Terrorists may have taken Mr. Salim’s life, but they will never be able to kill his dreams or those of the Iraqi people.

Hamid Kifaie, the Iraqi Governing Council’s spokesman, says that Mr. Salim “had a moral authority that no one had.... His life was simple. Everything was simple except his thinking.”

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says that the death of Mr. Salim “is a shocking and tragic loss for the people of Iraq”:

“There are...Iraqis every day...who are working for a better Iraq in a variety of capacities, from working on local councils to working with the coalition to working as teachers, who are targeted by assassins who have no aim other than to, I think, breed chaos and disorder so that the will of the majority won’t prevail. Mr. Salim is the latest victim of that, and we mourn it.”

The work of rebuilding Iraq will continue. It will take time. Prior to liberation there were no political institutions in Iraq because Saddam Hussein would not have any other than his Baath party. New institutions are being created. Ministries are being put in place. And, says Mr. Ereli, on June 30th there is going to be “a transfer of sovereignty”:

“That sovereignty will be transferred to a president, two vice presidents and a prime minister, who will appoint a cabinet.... That transitional government will run Iraq for a period of about seven months until direct elections can elect a national assembly, which would then...invest a fully legitimate, fully representative transitional government.”

Until full sovereignty returns to Iraqis, the Governing Council will continue its work. Moshen Abdul Hamid is the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party. As he told The Washington Post newspaper, “All Governing Council members are targets for the terrorists. This shows that the council is very important in Iraq and is doing a good job advocating for an independent Iraqi state. That’s why,” says Mr. Hamid, “the terrorists want to stop the council from doing what it is doing.”