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Momentum in Iraq Favors Democracy, Casey Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2005 – The momentum in Iraq has swung toward democracy and against terror, the top American commander in Iraq said today.

The insurgents are "not nearly as capable" as they want people to think, Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said on ABC's "Good Morning America" program. In fact, he said, insurgents represent "one tenth of one percent of the Iraqi population." Casey said the insurgents have no positive vision for Iraq, and the vast majority of Iraqis reject their attempts to derail democracy.

Even without a vision, the insurgents are media savvy, Casey said. They launch spectacular attacks to capture news headlines and spots on television news. "What the people in the United States are seeing are these car bomb attacks and these suicide attacks, and they are being fed a steady diet of that," he said. "I have no doubt that this affects their perception."

However, Casey said, the reality on the ground is that Iraqis make progress every day. Iraqis have the political will to move toward democracy, he said. "I have to remind folks in the states that the Iraqi (National) Assembly is on pace to produce a constitution by the 15th of August," he said.

Plans call for all Iraqis to vote on the constitution by Oct. 15 and elect a government under that constitution by Dec. 15.

"We're going to have a tough fight against these insurgents up to the elections, but the political process is and will continue to move forward," the general said.

Casey said the level of attacks -- between 450 and 500 a week -- is roughly the same as it was a year ago. There were times when the level was between 800 and 900 attacks per week. The area of the attacks is also pretty confined. In 14 out of the 18 provinces in the country, there are only about three attacks a day.

The insurgents will continue to attack Iraqi security forces and the general population. "They realize that over the long term the Iraqi security forces will be the greatest challenge to the insurgency," Casey said.

Yet even with the attacks on Iraqi army and Iraqi police, the insurgents have been unable to intimidate the Iraqis. "Recruiting (for Iraqi forces) is up; they are staying and standing and fighting; and the morale of the forces is quite good," Casey said.

The general said the United States must stand by Iraq. "We look at and study past insurgencies," he said. "The fact is that the insurgencies of the 20th century lasted about nine years.

"Will (the Iraqi insurgency) last at the level it is today? I don't think so," Casey said. "But we will progressively bring that insurgency to a level that can be contained by increasingly capable Iraqi security forces."

Casey said American servicemembers in Iraq are doing a magnificent job. "Every generation of Americans seem to have thrust on them a difficult challenge," he said. "I am continually impressed with their courage, their commitment and their compassion."

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Gen. George W. Casey Jr., USA

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