Bremer, Sanchez Pledge Terrorists Will Fail in Iraq
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 3, 2004 The coalition's civilian administrator and top military officer today vowed to press on toward a free, democratic and sovereign Iraq despite recent attacks designed to create sectarian discord and derail the process.
Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III and Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez expressed condolences to the Iraqi people in the wake of bombings that killed 117 people and wounded hundreds more. The death toll was revised downward today from reports of about 140 shortly after the attacks. They also promised the attacks would fail in their goal of dividing Iraq against itself.
"Yesterday's terrorist attacks match any ever perpetrated in their pure cynicism and their pure evil," Bremer said from Baghdad. "Their purpose was clear incitement of sectarian violence among Iraq's Muslims. In spite of the death toll, in spite of the wounded, as Iraqis from across the political spectrum have made clear in statements, the effort to provoke sectarian violence has failed and it will fail."
Noting increasing evidence that a large part of the terrorism in Iraq comes from outside the country, Bremer told the Iraqi people that border security continues to be a priority for the coalition. The border police now number 8,000, he said, and the coalition is adding hundreds of vehicles and doubling border patrol staffing in key areas. The United States, he added, has committed $60 million to support Iraqi border security.
The coalition administrator contrasted the March 1 agreement on an interim Iraqi constitution with the March 2 terrorist bombings.
"The Monday pre-dawn agreement on the Transitional Administrative Law demonstrated what can happen when a broad range of Iraqis work and talk and reason together with the goal of achieving justice, harmony and progress," he said. "This is the path to a democratic Iraq -- a vision shared by an overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people.
"Tuesday showed us the dark vision of the evil-doers," he continued. "They fight to ward off harmony and are happy to pave the road to power with the corpses of their innocent victims. The terrorists are dead set against the vision of a democratic Iraq."
Bremer said a democratic Iraq is the enemy of terrorism, and that terrorists will try to turn Muslim against Muslim to keep sovereignty from transferring to the Iraqi people June 30.
"We know from the intercepted letter written by the terrorist Abu Musab al- Zarqawi that he wants to provoke sectarian violence for the specific purpose of thwarting the movement towards democracy," Bremer said. "Zarqawi wrote that democracy was coming to Iraq, and that once Iraq was democratic there would be no pretext for attacks."
He said Zarqawi and other terrorists find themselves in a race against time a race they are losing. "They will lose because they have not thwarted the desire of the Iraqi people for democracy," he said. "They will lose because they have underestimated the resilience of the Iraqi people. And they will lose because they have underestimated the willingness of the coalition to support the Iraqi people."
Sanchez, with Bremer at the news conference, said the terrorists are only sealing their fate by continuing to attack innocent people. "With each attack, the resolve of the Iraqi people and the coalition can only grow stronger," he said. "With each attack, more and more Iraqis commit themselves to protect their country. Today, more than 200,000 Iraqis are serving in the security forces, and that number continues to grow every day."
The 130,000-plus coalition troops and Iraqi security forces won't be deterred by terror, Sanchez said. "Make no mistake we will continue our offensive operations to kill or capture those responsible for these atrocities. We will work alongside our Iraqi partners every day until this mission is complete.
"Together, we know that we can provide the security for a free, democratic and sovereign country," he continued. "This is our mission, and we will not walk away from it."