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Bush Says Defeat in Iraq Would Embolden Terrorists

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2006 – Defeat in Iraq would embolden the enemy and force Americans to confront the terror threat at home rather than overseas, President Bush said in a broad-ranging White House news conference today.

Bush said the brutal nature of the enemies of democracy in Iraq has been on display for all to see. Extremists have targeted innocent Iraqis in their quest to impose their twisted ideology on the nation, he said.

Bush’s comments came shortly after he met with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq.

“The situation in difficult in Iraq, no question about it,” Bush said. “The violence is being caused by a combination of terrorists, elements of former regime, criminals and sectarian militias. Attacks and casualties have risen during the Ramadan period.”

Muslims are in the midst of observing Ramadan, a month-long period of prayer and fasting.

Attacks and casualties also have increased recently because coalition and Iraqi forces are confronting the enemy in Baghdad and in other parts of Iraq, the president noted. “The past weekend, U.S. and Iraqi forces engaged … members of an illegal militia during a mission to capture a high-value target,” Bush said. “The reason I bring this up is that we're on the move. We're taking action. We're helping this young democracy succeed.”

Amid the violence, important political developments also are taking place, the president said. The Iraqi legislature is working to address issues of federalism and constitutional reform. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has taken steps to build confidence in his government and in the Iraqi security forces, Bush said.

Maliki is working to defuse tensions between Sunni and Shiite parties. Among the steps the prime minister announced is a new system of local and neighborhood committees made up of both Sunnis and Shiites that will work directly with Iraqi security forces to resolve tensions and stop sectarian strife.

Maliki has also reached out to Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province. “These tribal leaders told him they've had enough of the terrorists seeking to control the Sunni heartland, and they're ready to stand up and fight al Qaeda,” Bush said. “The prime minister told them that he welcomed their support and would help them.”

Finally, Maliki suspended the 8th Brigade, 2nd Division, of the national police after learning that this unit was not intervening to stop sectarian violence in and around Baghdad. “This police brigade has been decertified by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior,” Bush said. “It's been removed from service. It's now being reviewed and retrained. With this action, the Iraqi government's made clear it's not going to tolerate the infiltration of the Iraqi security forces by militias and sectarian interests.”

The parliamentary and executive actions show the political process in Iraq is moving forward, Bush said. “It's the combination of security and a political process that will enable the United States to achieve our objective, which is an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, defend itself and be an ally in this war on terror,” he said.

“Iraq's democratic government is just four months old. Yet, in the face of terrorist threats and sectarian violence, Iraq's new leaders are beginning to make tough choices, and as they make these tough decisions, we'll stand with them. We'll help them. It's in our interests that Iraq succeed.”

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Transcript of President Bush's News Conference

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