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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenter: Ambassador L. Paul Bremer
May 06, 2004
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

    MR. BREMER:  After decades of brutal one-man rule, Iraq today stands on the brink of a new democracy.  Just eight weeks from today an Iraqi government will assume full sovereignty. 

 

     One of that government's most important tasks will be to prepare for elections next January, Iraq's first free national elections.  Those January elections will elect a national assembly and that assembly will serve not only as a legislature but it will also write Iraq's permanent constitution. 

 

     That constitution, the first written by Iraqis and approved by a national referendum, will serve as the basis for Iraq's future governments.  The constitution will embrace individual rights for all and equal treatment before the law.  It will do so because the Iraqi

people will accept no less. 

 

      But the difficulties and sufferings of the people of the middle Euphrates region cannot continue until then.  The Iraqi authorities and the coalition are cooperating to reaffirm the rule of law and to restore order to the middle Euphrates area.  To further that cooperation, I'm naming Adnan al-Zurufi as governor of Najaf. 

 

     Governor Zurufi, a member of the Bani Hassan tribe, earned a degree in Islamic law at Alfik (ph) College, the Islamic jurisprudent college, in Najaf.  He is the right man for the job at this time.  A sports hero as a youth, Governor Zurufi showed his love of justice as

the head of an anti-Saddam student organization.  This led to his imprisonment and escape from Saddam's jails.  He participated in the 1991 Iraq intifada and was eventually forced into exile.  He returned to Najaf in April last year. 

 

     Governor Zurufi's attachment to Najaf and his proven willingness to fight for justice will serve the people well as he administers the government. 

 

     The contrast between Governor Zurufi's love of justice and the behavior of another individual in the middle Euphrates could not be more stark.  Over the past few months, one man and armed elements under his control have spread lawlessness, fear and economic paralysis, especially in Najaf and Karbala. 

 

     These lawless elements, who attempt to advance the interests of one group at the expense of everyone else, have engaged in armed attacks.  They have occupied and looted public and private property by force of arms.  These armed bands have fired mortars from the courtyard of the mosque in Kufa.  They have stored arms and munitions in the mosques of Iraq's holy cities.  They have operated outside the rule of law by conducting their own courts and prisons. 

 

     This must stop. 

 

     The people of the middle Euphrates are eager for a return to normal life and they're going to have it.  There is no room in the new Iraq for the kind of lawless, self-interested behavior we have seen over recent weeks.

 

     The coalition is providing the civil authorities, the Iraqi police and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps with the authority and resources necessary to restore security and revive the regional economy.  Additionally, we want to work with local authorities to establish zones in and around the holy shrines where only licensed weapons are carried by specially trained police.

 

     No individual is above the law.  No group is beyond the law.  That is why we encourage Najaf's community leaders to come forth with proposals to bring matters to a reasoned and just resolution.

 

     Establishment of lawful tranquility requires Sayyid Muqtada and his armed followers no more and no less than what is required of all citizens.  First, Sayyid Muqtada must face Iraqi justice for the crime of which he has been accused.  And second, his armed followers must disarm, as must the members of all such groups.

 

     The people of the middle Euphrates have asked the coalition for help, and we will provide it.  We will do all we can, but only Iraqis can provide the leadership necessary to reinstate and maintain the rule of law.

 

     The governorate of Najaf must have a strong Iraqi administrator.  Governor Zurufi is such a man.  He is a committed and courageous supporter of democracy and law and order, and I am pleased to name him as the new governor of Najaf.  Ladies and gentlemen, Governor Zurufi.

(Speaks a phrase in Arabic.)

 

     GOV. ZURUFI:  (In Arabic.)

 

     MR. BREMER:  (In Arabic.)

 

     GOV. ZURUFI:  (In Arabic.)

 

     (Through interpreter.)  In the name of Allah, the most compassionate, most merciful, Your Excellency, Ambassador Paul Bremer,the administrator of the coalition forces, may peace be upon you.  It is a great honor for me that I carry on the responsibility of the administration of the city of al-Najaf al-Ashraf, this great and old city, where buried within it those who have put the foundation for humanity, those that earth was happy to have them -- ahead of all those, the prince of the faithful, Imam Ali bin Abi Talib -- this city that sacrificed the best of its sons for over 35 years, confronting the worst of all terrorists in the world -- it is Saddam and his entombed regime -- and this resulting from its position on many levels, political, economic and cultural, where the outcome of such siege was visible to all the infrastructure of the city.

 

     Today Najaf Al-Ashraf passes to a security crisis that reflecting on the life of the people, and now Najaf seems to be almost dead.  Now, I, as the governor of Najaf, I ask the religious authorities al-Maraja, and political parties and organizations, and civil and humanitarian organizations, and individuals to help me to achieve the goals that we all seek.  First, in terms of the security, to respect the law and to resort to the law in resolving all conflicts; to dissolve all militias in Najaf and to surrender all weapons; moving all cases that are to be determined to after the change and transfer of authority; four, given the situation of security to the police forces.

 

     Now as to economics and the situation, we have placed a plan to change the -- to improve religious tourism and to attract religious tourism to the city, and to support agriculture and industry in Najaf.  And three, in terms of unemployment, unemployment is a national issue that affects all the provinces, and Najaf might have less unemployment because of religious tourism, but we will initiate a new center in Najaf for employment and we will have all kind of efforts to coordinate with the ministries.  And to this end, we have a great project that will employ more than 10,000 people inside the city of Najaf. 

 

     The point four is administrative corruption and bribes in all the offices of the state that we will have a committee for fighting corruption and general inspection from the governor and others.  And I ask all the people of Najaf to help me to assure that these things are achieved by all. 

 

     Thank you.

 

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