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Bush: Democratic Iraq Crippling Blow to Terrorists

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2006 – The establishment of democracy in Iraq will deal a severe blow to terrorism and help spread freedom throughout the region, President Bush said today.

"By helping the Iraqi people build their democracy, America will deal the terrorists a crippling blow and establish a beacon of liberty in the Middle East," Bush said during his weekly radio address. "And that will make our nation and the world more secure."

A democratic Iraq will deny the terrorists their immediate aim of turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban, a safe haven for terrorists to plot and plan attacks against free nations, he said.

Last week's formation of an Iraqi national unity government was an important milestone on the country's road to democracy, Bush said, and added that he was impressed by the new Iraqi leaders' commitment to maintain unity and represent all Iraqi people.

Bush said the new government will face many challenges but stressed its leaders agree they can deal with these issues by continuing to build up the Iraqi security forces and by gaining control over the country's numerous militias.

"They also agree that the new government must rebuild critical infrastructure, strengthen the Iraqi economy, and ensure that all Iraqis benefit as their nation grows in security and prosperity," he added.

Bush said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made it clear during their visit to Iraq this week that the new government will have the continued support of the U.S. and its coalition partners. "As we begin the new chapter in our relationship," he said, "we will help the new Iraqi government assume growing responsibility for the nation's security."

He also said that as the new Iraqi government becomes stronger more U.S. troops are likely to leave the country. "As Iraqis continue to make progress toward a democracy that can govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself, more of our troops can come home with the honor they have earned."

Terrorists recognize the threat the new unity government poses to their "dark plans" for Iraq and the entire Middle East, Bush said, and pointed to a video released earlier this week in which Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, denounced the new government and promised further acts of violence, as evidence of this fact.

"One Iraqi official declared that the terrorists and insurgents ... are feeling this might be the last chance they have to survive. They're fighting everyone in Iraq -- every Iraqi. I think that shows how weak they are," he said.

The president also said he felt the new leaders of Iraq have shown great courage in the face of these continued terrorist threats.

"In recent weeks, terrorists have assassinated three siblings of top Iraqi politicians. But the new leaders of Iraq remain determined to lead their nation toward a future of democracy and peace," Bush said.

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Full transcript of President Bush's radio address

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