May 8th, 2007 08:51 EST
Iraq, Can Is There A Way To Move Forward?
BAGHDAD — Iraqi and U.S. government officials along with the Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman held a press conference at the Combined Press Information Center Sunday.
Ali Al-Dabbagh, an Iraqi government spokesman, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the MNF-I spokesman, and Daniel Speckhard, Charge D’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, provided an update concerning the current relationship between Iraq and its neighboring countries.
“The stability of Iraq means the stability of the region itself, which matters to the whole world” said Al-Dabbagh. “As for the conference of the neighboring countries, there’s a general [good] feeling.”
Al-Dabbagh stressed the importance of national and international unity and cooperation to pull Iraq out of a state of violence.
“This success should be supported by a national determination between all political parties to pull Iraq out of violence,” he said. “[Iraq] could be a meeting of all cultures to remove violence and conflicts from the area.”
Al-Dabbagh recognized the need of neighboring countries to help with reconstruction.
“[Iraq] will stay like this unless the neighboring countries help Iraq enter a new era,” he said.
Speckhard commented on the ‘International Compact of Iraq,’ and the Neighbors’ Ministerial Conference. Both meetings offered leaders from around the region to participate in peaceful dialogue.
“The neighbors’ meeting marked the first time there has been a gathering on Iraq at this level with the participation from all the neighbors in the region,” he said. “The participation of Iraq’s neighbors shows the promise for the goal of addressing Iraq’s challenges by creating a stable, secure and prosperous Iraq with the support of its neighbors.”
“The ‘International Compact for Iraq’ laid the economic foundation, which progress can be built on,” he continued. “Iraq’s leaders have to move forward with courage and boldness in bringing the country together through political action.”
According to Speckhard, Iraq’s reconstruction will not be easy.
“Iraqi leaders have a full plate of issues on their agenda,” he said.
Caldwell expressed the importance of securing Iraq and how efforts may get harder before the quality of life for the Iraqis gets easier.
“Once security is improved, the Iraqi people will be able to move forward, build their government, deal with challenging issues and develop their own security forces so they can assume responsibility for protecting themselves,” he said.
According to Caldwell, al-Qaeda continues attempting to decimate hope by advancing their agenda through chaos, fear and intimidation to discredit the Iraqi government and demoralize the citizens.
“Al-Qaeda is a vicious and committed enemy,” he said. “They target symbols of progress, vital infrastructure and gatherings of innocent people.”
Recently, Coalition forces discovered detonation wire leading to a girls’ schoolhouse in Tarmiyah, Iraq, which was found to be rigged with explosives around and within its construction.
“It was designed to be a vicious, ugly, sophisticated, premeditated attack against the most vulnerable and innocent members of society – girls trying to get an education,” he said.
However, Caldwell remained optimistic due to the amount of help received from the Iraqi populace.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the reporting and discovering of weapons caches,” he said. “People know the security forces are there, and they are there to protect the people.”
As Iraq continues to progress in reconstruction, Speckhard reaffirmed the commitment of the U.S. to support the Iraqi democracy.
“The United States remains firmly committed to supporting the government, the nation and the people of Iraq as they move ahead, which is of vital importance to all Iraqis,” he said.
(U.S. Army story by Spc. Carl N. Hudson, Combined Press Information Center)
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