Delaying Sovereignty Transfer is Enemies' Wish, Bush Says
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 10, 2004 Delaying the scheduled June 30 transfer of sovereignty in Iraq because of recent violence would play into the enemy's hands, President Bush said today in his weekly national radio address.
"Some have suggested that we should respond to the recent attacks by delaying Iraqi sovereignty," Bush said. "This is precisely what our enemies want. They want to dictate the course of events in Iraq and to prevent the Iraqi people from having a true voice in their future. They want America and our coalition to falter in our commitments before a watching world. In these ambitions, the enemies of freedom will fail. Iraqi sovereignty will arrive on June 30."
As the sovereignty transfer draws closer, the president said, a "small faction" is trying to derail the process. Saddam Hussein loyalists are responsible for attacks against coalition forces in some cities, he said.
"In other areas, attacks were incited by a radical named Muqtada al-Sadr, who is wanted for the murder of a respected Shiite cleric," the president added. "Al-Sadr has called for violence against coalition troops, and his band of thugs (has) terrorized Iraqi police and ordinary citizens."
Bush said coalition forces in Operation Vigilant Resolve in Fallujah and in Operation Resolute Sword toward the south will defeat the insurgents. "Our coalition's quick-reaction forces are finding and engaging the enemy," he said. "Prisoners are being taken, and intelligence is being gathered. Our decisive actions will continue until these enemies of democracy are dealt with."
Bush noted that Iraq has an interim constitution ready for its new government, and that United Nations Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is consulting with a wide range of Iraqis on the structure of the interim government that will assume control July 1. "We welcome this U.N. engagement," the president said.
"The transition to sovereignty will mark the beginning of a new government, and the end of the coalition's administrative duties," Bush said. "But the coalition's commitment to Iraq will continue. We will establish a new American embassy to protect our nation's interests. We will continue helping the Iraqi people reconstruct their economy, undermined by decades of dictatorship and corruption. And our coalition forces will remain committed to the security of Iraq."
With elections for a permanent Iraqi government scheduled near the end of 2005, Bush said that government can count on continued help from the coalition. "We will stand with the Iraqi people as long as necessary, to ensure that their young democracy is stable and secure and successful," he said.
Bush said liberty in Iraq is in the best interest of the Iraqi people, the Middle East and all freedom-loving countries, and that it will make for a safer world. "As the greater Middle East increasingly becomes a place where freedom flourishes," he said, "the lives of millions in that region will be bettered, and the American people and the entire world will be more secure.
"From the first days of the war on terror, I said our nation would face periods of struggle and testing," he continued. "As the June 30 transition approaches, we will continue to see a test of wills between the enemies of freedom and its defenders. We will win this test of wills, and overcome every challenge, because the cause of freedom and security is worth our struggle."
Americans in uniform have the American people's gratitude and prayers, Bush said.
"This weekend, many of the men and women who serve that cause in uniform will celebrate Easter and Passover far from home," he noted. "In this season that celebrates hope and freedom, our nation remembers in prayer the good and the brave people of our military. They are the best of America, and America is firmly behind them."