Full Victory in Iraq Depends on New Iraqi Government's Success
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 9, 2006 The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is great news for Americans and Iraqis alike, but ultimate victory in Iraq depends on the success of the country's new government, President Bush said today.
"Removing Zarqawi is a major blow to al Qaeda. It's not going to end the war, it's certainly not going to end the violence, but it's going to help a lot," Bush said during a joint news conference with Danish Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen at Camp David, Md.
Victory in Iraq will come only when the country "can sustain itself, govern itself and defend itself," he said.
The president referred to Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, as a "cold- blooded killer" who beheaded innocent people and masterminded bombings.
"His whole ambition was to stop the advance of democracy in Iraq. Our troops, who performed brilliantly, by the way, in bringing this man to justice, did the Iraqis and the Americans and anybody else who loves freedom a great service by bringing him to justice," Bush said.
One goal of al Qaeda in Iraq was to encourage sectarian violence by pitting Sunni and Shiite Muslims against each other in order to stop democracy, he said.
New Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is determined to succeed in bringing all sides together, Bush said. Maliki has set priorities, "starting with electricity in Baghdad, security in Baghdad, and dismantling militia groups that are creating havoc," the president said.
Bush said he is committed to removing U.S. troops from Iraq as soon as possible. "But the definition of 'as soon as possible' is depending upon victory in Iraq," he said. "We're making progress toward that goal."
He stressed that it is important to be patient as the new Iraqi government and security forces get fully on their feet.
Bush thanked the Danish prime minister for his country's help in helping the Iraqis toward this goal. Denmark has troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The invitation to come to Camp David is an expression of my high regard for Prime Minister Rasmussen and our friendship between our two countries," Bush said. "I appreciate the prime minister's belief that freedom can help change the world and that freedom is universal. Prime Minister Rasmussen has been a strong believer in supporting the Iraqi government's desire to live in democracy."
"Democracy is what it is all about," Rasmussen said. "We agree on the very reason for being engaged in Iraq, to put an end to oppression and to promote freedom, democracy and human rights. These are the very values we want to defend."
Rasmussen said Denmark is committed to remain in Iraq as long as its assistance is requested and as long as it can make a positive difference.
On the subject of Iran, Bush said the U.S. will continue to pursue a diplomatic course of action regarding that country's uranium enrichment program.
"I've always felt like we needed to solve this problem diplomatically," he said. "And I always felt it was essential that when the Iranians looked out at the world, they see a common, united group of nations saying, 'No nuclear weapon.'"
Bush said Iran needs to provide verifiable evidence that it has suspended its enrichment program before the "United States will come to the table."
"I said to our friends and partners, if they (Iran) choose not ... to suspend verifiably, there must be a consequence," Bush said. "There must be a sense of urgency on our part to send a common message to them."
He did not give an exact timetable for how long the U.S. would wait for Iran to verify it has quit its enrichment program.
"We've given the Iranians a limited period of time ... weeks, not months -- to digest a proposal to move forward," the president said. "And if they choose not to verifiably suspend their program, then there will be action taken in the U.N. Security Council."