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Sense of Hopeful Future Being Felt in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2004 – Reports from Iraq indicate there is a sense of a hopeful future in Iraq, just 24 days after the return of sovereignty, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers called this a "positive sign of progress toward a more stable Iraq," during a Pentagon news conference.

Myers and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that the threat posed by insurgents, foreign fighters and regime remnants against the interim government and coalition remains very real. These forces continue their attacks, but are directing them against the Iraqi security forces and, increasingly, against innocent Iraqi civilians.

Rumsfeld said anti-Iraqi forces have adopted a strategy targeting Iraqis who are cooperating with the new Iraqi government. "They're attacking the Iraqi infrastructure," he said. "Their new strategy is proving them very visibly to be enemies of the Iraqi people, and they're losing; they're losing because hope is spreading and progress is continuing."

Myers said that since the transition of sovereignty in Iraq, insurgents have killed about 100 members of the Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians. About 250 Iraqis have been injured. "Government leaders continue be targets of attack, and yet many brave Iraqis are stepping forward to fill those key leadership positions," Myers said.

The coalition will continue to support the interim Iraqi government as it strengthens the ministries and readies for elections at the end of the year. The new Iraq that is being formed is a far cry from the one under Saddam Hussein. "The Iraq that's rising today is not the one that the Saddamists envisioned, and it's not the one that will seek alliances with our most deadly enemies," Rumsfeld said.

"Today a country that once shared a common cause with terrorists is now an ally in the effort to defeat the extremists," he continued. "And the American people can be enormously proud of the young men and women in uniform and our coalition partners, who are contributing every day in a very difficult task but what will be a victory."

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman

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