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Votes Show Iraqis Want Unity, Peace, National Security Official Says

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2006 – As evidenced by their votes, the Iraqi people want unity and peace, the president's national security adviser said yesterday.

"If you look at the Iraqi people, every time they've had a chance to vote, they have voted for unity and they have voted for peace," Stephen Hadley said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Hadley stressed the importance of meeting the deadline for the formation of an Iraqi unity government that includes Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. The government is scheduled to be in place by the end of March.

"It is important that the Iraqi people see all the sectarian communities joining in a unity government," he said. "We think the sooner, the better."

Iraqis are working toward a structured government, where participation from all groups is guaranteed, Hadley said. "The leaders now of all the various groups are meeting every day to try and resolve these issues," he said. "We think they are making progress."

Hadley said recent sectarian aggression in Iraq, including the outbreak of violence following the February bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, was an "enormous shock" to the Iraqi people. He pointed out that the response to the violence proved most Iraqis do not want civil war.

"After about 24 or 48 hours (after the Golden Mosque bombing), all the principal ministers of the government and of the various religious communities came out and basically said, 'We don't want to go to civil war,'" he said.

Iraqi security forces played a major role in giving the people what they wanted by leading the effort to quell the unrest, Hadley said.

"They were out front trying to contain the violence. They did not break up along sectarian lines. They held together," he said. "The army did a pretty good job. The police did a pretty good job."

There were some problems associated with the performance of the security forces, but these issues are now being addressed, Hadley added.

He also said the U.S. is concerned about Iran's involvement in the Iraqi insurgency. "Clearly, there are contacts between Iran and elements in Iran and groups in Iraq that are promoting violence," he said.

The U.S. has evidence insurgents have killed Iraqi and coalition forces using equipment provided by Iran, he said. The equipment has been used in "improvised explosive devices, particularly some of those called shaped charges, which can do particular damage to vehicles," he said.

The United States has publicly raised this issue with the Iranians and will pursue it privately as well, Hadley said.

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