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7/3/04 - IRAQIS GREET SOVEREIGNTY - 2004-07-07

Sovereignty was returned to the people of Iraq on June 28th. As Ahmed Javel al-Awadi, an Iraqi electric power specialist, told The New York Times newspaper, “It’s a very big feeling when you control the country.”

But Iraq has a long way to go to establish a peaceful and prosperous country. Iyad Allawi, Iraq’s interim prime minister, says that security is his number-one priority. Terrorists “are trying to destroy our country,” says Mr. Allawi, “and we are not going to allow this.”

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a statement forbidding cooperation with terrorists. The Iraqi Shiite leader called on Iraqis to be on the watch for those who seek to destroy Iraq’s infrastructure and public institutions. President George W. Bush says, “The struggle is, first and foremost, an Iraqi struggle”:

“The United States military and our coalition partners have made a clear, specific, and continuing mission in Iraq. As we train Iraqi security forces, we’ll help those forces to find and destroy the killers.... We’ll provide security for the upcoming elections.”

Operating in a sovereign nation, says Mr. Bush, coalition forces will act in close consultation with the Iraqi government.

“Iraq’s prime minister and president have told me that their goal is to eventually take full responsibility for the security of their country. And America wants Iraqi forces to take that role. Our military will stay as long as the stability of Iraq requires, and only as long as their presence is needed and requested by the Iraqi government.”

President Bush says that, in Iraq, the coalition is “serving the cause of liberty, and liberty is always worth fighting for.” Now that Iraq is once again a sovereign country, Baghdad electrical engineer Kamal al-Rawi told a reporter, “It’s a better feeling -- no more, no less.”