Iraq has a new interim government that will take over authority from the U.S.-led coalition on June 30th. The selection of the new government, headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawar, is a significant move toward a free and fully independent Iraq. The interim government's greatest task will be to guide Iraq to national elections by next January.
President George W. Bush says that “a fully sovereign nation with a representative government” will realize the dream of the Iraqi people. But it will also do more:
“A free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East is going to be a game-changer, an agent of change. It's going to send a clear signal that the terrorists can't win and that a free society is a better way to lift the hopes and aspirations of the average person.”
One country that will note the change, says Mr. Bush, is Iran:
“It's important for. . .those who love freedom in Iran to see. I mean, listen, a free Iraq on the border of Iran is going to send a very clear signal to those who want to be free -- that a free society is very possible.”
President Bush says it is necessary to work toward democracy throughout the Middle East:
“Because a society that is not free and not democratic is a society that's likely to breed resentment and anger. And therefore, a society that makes the recruitment of young terrorists more likely.”
In the past, says Mr. Bush, the U.S. and other countries pursued a flawed policy in the region:
“For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice this approach brought little stability, and much oppression. So I have changed this policy. In the short term, we will work with every government in the Middle East dedicated to destroying the terrorist networks. In the longer term, we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy.”
“Free societies are peaceful societies,” says Mr. Bush. “We will stand with the people of that region as they seek their future in freedom."