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5/28/04 - GOOD NEWS IN IRAQ - 2004-05-28

In recent weeks, there have been a number of negative stories about the transition to democracy in Iraq. From continuing security problems to the scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, bad news has driven out the good in Iraq. But there is a great deal of good news to report.

The transfer of power to the Iraqi people is on schedule. Already, fourteen government ministries are under the direct control of Iraqis. On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will be dissolved and Iraqis will have full governing authority. The coalition is helping Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, construct schools, refurbish health facilities, repair bridges, and increase the output of electricity. A new currency has been introduced. The Iraqi governing council has approved a law that opens the country to foreign investment for the first time in decades. Oil production has reached over two-million barrels a day, bringing revenues of nearly six-billion-dollars so far this year. And throughout the transition, says U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Iraqi people have been strong and resilient:

“Despite the troubles and tragedies we’ve suffered together, the Iraqi people have proven themselves brave. That bravery shows in the progress made over the past year in all walks of life, in nearly every town and village in Iraq. We don’t often hear the good news, about newly elected village and municipal governments, about new schools and clinics, about a quickly reviving private economy, and about a free press, and a judicial system that works for the people.”

The bravery of the Iraqi people, says Mr. Powell, will show the world that they will make it through this difficult time:

“It shows in the willingness of men and women to make sacrifices and even to give their lives on behalf of a new, free Iraq. And it’s not just leaders like Aquila al-Hashimi and Izzedin Salim, who have given their lives, it’s also the unsung heroes who have stood up for their rights and their freedom like the people of Karbala, who refused to be intimidated by the thugs of Moqtada al-Sadr’s so-called Mahdi militia.”

The good news in Iraq is that the great majority of its citizens want freedom, security, and prosperity. “As a proud, independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation, and neither does America,” says President George W. Bush. “America's objective in Iraq is limited, and it is firm. We seek an independent, free, and secure Iraq.”