Interim Prime Minister Allawi Outlines Iraq's Future
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2004 Looking forward to nationwide elections slated in January, interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi cited in recent remarks the "large strides" his country has made since the April 9, 2003, fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Iraqi government-sponsored programs to provide jobs, housing, electricity, water and more to citizens are all bearing fruit, Allawi noted during an Oct. 18 news conference in Baghdad.
"The government has ambitious plans to develop the economy and rebuild the country," Allawi reported. But those plans, he said, depend "on the improvement of the security situation, which is still an obstacle to large progress in the Iraqi economy."
Saddam's "crimes and destruction," the prime minister explained, "are still casting their shadow on our country in terms of violence, distain of the citizens' rights, disrespect for the law, and spread of corruption."
And current security, political and economic issues "undoubtedly" affect Iraq's march toward a democratic government, Allawi acknowledged.
Iraq is now experiencing "three interlinked types of terrorism," Allawi observed. These, he said, include kidnappings and corruption of officials; vandalism targeting infrastructure and attacks aimed at government entities like the police and National Guard; and foreign-planned terrorist acts that seek to sow fear and unease throughout the country.
Yet, Allawi expressed his confidence that Iraq's police and National Guard forces "will defeat the terrorists who are harming Iraq's security and the safety of its citizens."
The capabilities of Iraqi police and Guardsmen are being boosted, Allawi noted, while "providing them with the necessary combat equipment." The prime minister said he also meets daily with other senior government officials to discuss methods "to expedite the training of these forces."
The prime minister envisions the day when "Iraqi policemen maintain security in the streets instead of the multinational forces." Allawi also extended his thanks to the more than 30 coalition members "for their contributions and commitments toward our country and the sacrifices they make toward this end."
Allawi predicted: "The day will come, God willing, when the Iraqi Army will protect our borders while the National Guard will provide security for cities, and the police will maintain order and security and ensure the supremacy of law."
But for now, the prime minister acknowledged, Iraq "will require the assistance of the multinational forces" to defeat the terrorists.
Allawi said he couldn't say when multinational troops will leave Iraq, because "this is linked to the security situation and the threat the terrorists pose to the safety of our country and people."
The interim government, Allawi declared, "remains committed" to holding the general elections in January. Those elections, he emphasized, "will be an important step in the history of our country and in our ability to forge ahead with our democratic process and maintain the unity of Iraq."
An initiative to coax Sadr City residents in Baghdad to turn in their weapons is off to "a good start," Allawi reported, with thousands of weapons and explosives collected. The success of that operation in Sadr City, he said, caused its being extended to Oct. 21.
"I call on all the people of al-Sadr City to surrender the weapons they have before the deadline ends, because this is the last extension," Allawi pointed out. Afterward, unlicensed weapons will be confiscated, he said, and their owners will be punished according to the law.
"This will also happen in other parts of Iraq," Allawi reported, noting the weapons turn-in initiative will soon be offered in Basra and other Iraqi cities. Such disarmament programs, he noted, "are part of the preparations for the upcoming elections."
After the January elections, a newly elected Iraqi government and National Assembly, Allawi explained, "will have the duty of drafting a permanent constitution for the country and reviewing laws."
At that time "the mission of the interim government will then end, and an authority that is democratically elected will assume power in Iraq," Allawi said.
"It will be a historic moment in which we can take pride, God willing," the prime minister concluded.