U.S. Remains Committed to Iraqi Democracy, Rice Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2005 Although the road ahead is not easy, the United States remains determined to help Iraqis replace former dictator Saddam Hussein's autocratic rule with a democratic government, the top U.S. diplomat said in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 13.
"The United States, therefore, remains committed to the goals that were set out, which is to take a situation in which tyranny existed and to help the Iraqi people to build a democratic future on the ruins of that tyranny," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters at a news conference that also featured Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.
The United States and its allies expect success in supplanting Saddam's selfish tyranny with a government established for the Iraqi people and run by the Iraqi people, Rice said. Therefore, she said, there's no talk of exit strategies.
"We talk in terms of success strategies. And that means that we are supportive of the political process that is under way in Iraq to bring about an Iraq that is for all Iraqis," Rice said.
Rice thanked the Saudi government for its support of Iraqi, U.S. and other coalition members' vision of a new, free Iraq.
Two major recent elections held in Iraq, one in January and the other in October, indicate that the democratic political process in the new Iraq is well under way, Rice said. Another election, slated for December, will choose members for a new Iraqi national assembly.
Rice, who visited Iraq Nov. 11, noted that the Iraqi people appear very amiable to adopting democratic principles of voting and governance.
The United States and its allies are also helping Iraq to develop and field a new military and police forces, Rice said. A recently renewed U.N. resolution states that multinational forces, including U.S. military, should remain in Iraq to provide security against terrorism, Rice said. She added that terrorists operating in Iraq are of the same stripe as those who'd kill innocent people in London; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; or New York City and Washington.
"(Multinational forces) are there," Rice said, "because the Iraqis are facing down terrorists who seem only to want to kill innocent Iraqis in the service of whatever cause they're espousing."
The United States now has about 160,000 military members serving in Iraq. Rice said she expects that the number of American forces in Iraq will eventually be reduced.
"I do believe that the United States and others will not need to keep forces of the size that we have there because the Iraqis are going to step up and are stepping up to their responsibilities," Rice said. "But any decisions about our troop strength will be on recommendation from the commanders on the ground and will be a result of the conditions on the ground."