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Iraqis Need Proof Saddam Dead, Captured to Feel Safe

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2003 – Iraqis need to see Saddam Hussein and his sons dead or in custody before they feel safe, said Emad Dhia, director of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council, during a Pentagon press conference today.

This is despite the fact that American officials have assured Iraqis that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone and it's not coming back.

Larry Di Rita, acting Pentagon spokesman, said the many different "strains" of anti-coalition activity in Iraq do not seem to be directed by a single command.

Slowly but certainly Iraqis are taking over more and more of the responsibility for running the country.

Dhia said this is the first taste of freedom in Iraq for 34 years. "This is the truth, you can see it, you can feel it, and you notice that Iraqis are speaking their minds," he said. "If they don't like something, they go in the streets and demonstrate. That never happened under the Saddam regime."

Dhia said that there are more than 50 newspapers being distributed in Baghdad now. "They write with no fear of prosecution or imprisonment," he said.

Dhia, a mechanical engineer by profession, said Iraq now has better access to electric power than under Saddam. He said there are still challenges facing coalition and Iraqi engineers as they continue their work on the power grid. "Unfortunately, the sympathizers of Saddam's regime are shooting our high- tension lines, which run in Iraq for hundreds of miles," he said. "They also throw a grenade on a switching station or transformer to sabotage the process of providing electricity to all Iraqis."

The saboteurs are doing this at a time when the average temperature reaches 130 degrees. Dhia said the average Iraqi is growing frustrated by the power problems, but maintains that the Iraqi populace is placing the blame on Saddam sympathizers rather than the coalition.

Dhia said the Ba'ath Party officials will stop at nothing to maintain their power and privileges. "Dhia said the vast majority of the Iraqi people are "mad on" Saddam Hussein. Dhia emphasized that most of the trouble is occurring in areas where Saddam cultivated loyalty the area bounded by Baghdad, Ar Ramadi and his hometown of Tikrit.

The perception of Iraqis is that Saddam Hussein and his sons are still alive. The United States has announced a $25 million reward for either the capture or proof of death of Saddam Hussein. "We recognize this. It would be much better to prove that Saddam Hussein is captured or dead," Di Rita said.

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