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Rice Outlines Iraq Victory Strategy On Capitol Hill

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2005 – The coming year should witness more Iraqi security forces taking on insurgents and securing territory as a lasting democratic system is established, the senior U.S. diplomat told a Senate panel here today.

The key to victory over the insurgency in Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Senate Committee on Foreign Relations members, is to "clear areas from insurgent control, hold them securely, and build durable, national Iraqi institutions."

American servicemen and women are fighting in Iraq "at a pivotal time in world history," Rice said. Efforts to defeat the insurgents "must succeed," she said, if the Iraqis are to be successful in establishing an inclusive, democratic government unique in the Middle East.

"Let's work together on how we will win," Rice said, calling for increased collaboration between U.S., coalition, and Iraqi security forces, as well as help from the U.S. Congress.

A national election slated for December will provide a new Iraqi government that will serve a four-year term, Rice said.

The new Iraqi government will succeed, Rice said, if U.S., coalition and Iraqi interests can work together to:

  • Break the back of the insurgency so that Iraqis can finish it off without large-scale U.S. military help.
  • Keep Iraq from being a safe haven from which Islamic extremists can terrorize the region or the world.
  • Demonstrate positive potential for democratic change and free expression in the Arab and Muslim world, even under the most difficult of conditions, and;
  • Turn the corner financially and economically, so there is a sense of hope and a visible path toward self-reliance.
Anti-terror advocates in Iraq have the advantage, Rice said, since the terrorists only want to tear down society, have no affinity for the Iraqi people, and have no positive vision for the country's future.

That's why "most Iraqis despise the insurgents," Rice said.

The terrorists are narrow-minded and fear the give-and-take of democratic discourse, Rice said, noting the insurgents "will never let themselves or their ideas face the test of democratic choice."

Each day increased numbers of trained and equipped Iraqi security forces are being fielded against the insurgents, Rice said. And, "with more capable Iraqi forces, we can implement this element of the strategy," she explained, which is to have Iraqi troops go "neighborhood by neighborhood" to flush out insurgents and secure territory.

That process, Rice said, "has already begun."

Former Iraq hot spots are being pacified, Rice said, noting that security along the Baghdad airport road "has measurably improved." In contrast to a year ago, life is also now calmer in places like Mosul, Najaf, Fallujah, and formerly frenetic parts of downtown Baghdad, Rice said.

Taking a page from anti-terror operations in Afghanistan, Rice said the U.S. "will deploy Provincial Reconstruction Teams in key parts" of Iraq. The PRT teams in Iraq will train police, set up courts, and assist local municipalities to set up sewage treatment or irrigation projects, she said.

There's a "great deal at stake" in Iraq, Rice said, adding that a free, democratic Iraq "will be at the heart of a different kind of Middle East."

First though, the terrorists' "ideology of hatred" must be defeated, Rice said.

The struggle against extremism in Iraq demonstrates to Iraqis and other Middle Eastern citizens that "there is a better way, a freer way, to lasting peace" other than to hate and follow the terrorists' ideology, Rice said.

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Condoleezza Rice

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