March 14th, 2006 05:01 EST
Terrorists Are Losing in Iraq, Bush Says
Washington -- Warning of “difficult work ahead,” President Bush March 13 praised the progress made by the Iraqi people in the three years following the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, and said the terrorists in Iraq “are losing on the field of battle.”
Speaking in Washington to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Bush told the American people in his first in a series of three speeches marking the beginning of coalition operations that they should expect violence to continue in Iraq.
“There will be more tough fighting and more days of struggle, and we will see more images of chaos and carnage in the days and months to come,” he said.
The president said that although the terrorists are losing the war, they are fighting through the media. “They're hoping to shake our resolve and force us to retreat. They are not going to succeed,” he said.
Bush said the Iraqi people have accomplished many things in the past three years. “[T]he Iraqi people have gone from living under the boot of a brutal tyrant to liberation, to sovereignty, to free elections, to a constitutional referendum, and last December to elections for a fully constitutional government,” he said.
However, in the aftermath of the destruction of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, there have been “images of violence and anger and despair.” (See related article.)
“The terrorists attacked the Golden Mosque for a reason. They know that they lack the military strength to challenge Iraqi and coalition forces directly, so their only hope is to try and provoke a civil war,” he said.
However, although the situation remains tense, the president said most Iraqis did not turn to violence, and “out of this crisis, we've … seen signs of a hopeful future,” noting in particular the leadership of Sunni and Shi'a clerics who together denounced the bombing and called for restraint, as well as Iraqi security forces who took the lead in helping to defuse confrontations and prevent an escalation of violence.
“As more Iraqi battalions come on line, these Iraqi forces are assuming responsibility for more territory,” he said. “Today Iraqi units have primary responsibility for more than 30,000 square miles [77,700 square kilometers] of Iraq, an increase of roughly 20,000 square miles [51,800 square kilometers] since the beginning of the year.”
The president also addressed the danger posed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and said “some of the most powerful IEDs we are seeing in Iraq today include components that came from Iran.”
Bush said the United States is seeking to combat IEDs by “targeting the bomb makers and training our forces and deploying new technologies,” and plans to spend $3.3 billion in 2006 in support of efforts to defeat IEDs.
A transcript of the president’s remarks is available on the White House Web site.
Source: US State Dept.