Bremer Says More Iraqis Cooperating With Coalition
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 1, 2003 The remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime are not only attacking coalition forces, but also the infrastructure all Iraqis rely on, said the presidential envoy to Iraq today.
The death squad leftovers and unreconstructed members of the Iraqi Republican Guard and Baath Party loyalists "are increasingly alienating the rest of the population, which is beginning to enjoy their new-found freedoms," Paul Bremer said in a Baghdad news conference.
He noted that more and more Iraqis are coming forward to help the coalition forces and the reconstituted Iraqi police with information on who is behind these attacks.
Bremer said it is not surprising that these attacks are happening, since the remnants of Saddam's regime are being pushed to the wall. "Day by day, conditions in Iraq continue to improve, freedom becomes more and more entrenched and the dark days of the Baathist regime are further and further back in people's memories," he observed. "So those few remaining individuals who have no desire or ability to fit into this new, free Iraq, not surprisingly, are becoming more and more desperate."
The trouble is concentrated in the area being called the "Sunni Triangle" the area north and west of Baghdad and marked by Baghdad, Ar Ramadi and Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
Bremer said he regretted the deaths of coalition soldiers and Iraqis in the attacks. "But it's important to remember how far we have come," he said. "It's really only 12 weeks ago that we had a war here. It's only 12 weeks ago that every Iraqi was living under one of the most tyrannical regimes in recent history. It's only 12 weeks ago that the economy was still a Stalinist economy. It's only 12 weeks ago that law and order in this country meant the dictatorship of the lucky few.
"Those things have all been changed," he continued. "The Iraqis have a freedom they've never had before."
Bremer said the coalition will go forward on many fronts. On the security side, the new Iraqi army should start enlisting its first recruits on July 15, he said. The Iraqi police force is growing and coalition planners, working with Iraqi citizens, are examining the court and prison systems.
On the economic frontier, the coalition is financing a wide range of reconstruction and rehabilitation projects. "In the last six weeks, the coalition has spent almost a billion dollars on several thousand projects in Iraq, such as irrigation and construction projects," he said.
On one irrigation project, 3,000 workers cleared over 350 kilometers of irrigation channels. "By the end of the month, we expect to have 50,000 men and women at work on over 5,000 kilometers of irrigation channels," he said.
Bremer said he expects Iraqi airports to open soon to scheduled commercial flights -- coalition officials confirmed a July start. Also, the seaport at Umm Qasr is operating at its highest level for years, he said. "Iraq's borders are open to trade and people," he said. "Trade is booming. We now need to establish real wealth-creating industries and services in Iraq to take forward this process of economic reform."
On the political front, the coalition is "on target with a good strategy" for establishing an Iraqi interim administration by mid-July. He said the new administration will be representative of the people of Iraq.
"I look forward to working alongside the council within a couple of weeks and, shortly thereafter, to seeing the constitutional process launched, which will culminate, once the constitution has been adopted, in the first free and democratic elections in Iraq's history, which in turn will be followed by the first sovereign Iraqi government, at which time the coalition's job will be over," he said.