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Bremer Outlines 'The Road Ahead' to a New Iraq

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2003 – The citizens of Iraq moved closer toward establishing a democratic government of their own choosing with the July 13 assembly of the Iraqi governing council, the senior U.S. administrator in Iraq noted recently.

In his article "The Road Ahead in Iraq And How To Navigate It," that appeared in the July 13 issue of The New York Times, L. Paul Bremer III wrote that the council's initial meeting represents "the first official step in this political transition (of Iraq) at the national level" from the repression meted out under former dictator Saddam Hussein -- to democracy.

The council is an interim group that was established "after months of consultations with Iraqis," Bremer noted. It represents, he continued, "all the strands from Iraq's complicated social structure Shiites, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds, men and women, Christians and Turkmens."

Bremer explained that the council "will immediately exercise real political power, appointing interim ministers and working with the coalition on policy and budgets."

Other council work, he added, involves establishing procedures to write a new constitution for the Iraqi national government.

Once that constitution is approved by the Iraqi people, then "elections can be held and a sovereign Iraqi government will come into being," Bremer said.

The length of time coalition forces will remain in Iraq depends on "how quickly the Iraqi people can write and approve a constitution," the senior U.S. official explained.

Bremer pointed out that coalition policy strategy in Iraq security, politics and the economy "provides for the successful transition to a stable and reformed Iraq."

And it's paramount to tie Iraq's "economic well-being to political freedom," he asserted, noting that for 35 years the country's wealth was shanghaied away from its people by a corrupt regime.

Current coalition economic initiatives in Iraq involve re- establishing basic services and creating jobs, Bremer said.

"Our economic reform plan will entail a major shift of capital from the value-destroying state sector to private firms," he explained, adding, "A method should be found to assure that every citizen benefits from Iraq's oil wealth."

One way to do this, he noted, would be to provide Iraqi citizens' social benefits from a trust financed by oil sales. Another possibility, Bremer continued, could involve providing each citizen an annual cash payment from the same type of trust.

However, he acknowledged that the road to political and economic recovery in Iraq might get rockier and more dangerous in coming days and months because of recalcitrant Saddam "die-hards" still in the country.

"The combination of a broken infrastructure and acts of sabotage could mean a rough summer," Bremer cautioned, noting that coalition forces "will suffer casualties, as the bitter-enders resort to violence."

Yet, "no one should doubt our determination to use our power in the face of violent acts," he asserted.

All of the hard work and danger will be worth it, Bremer emphasized, since the result will be "a free, democratic and independent Iraq that stands not as a threat to its neighbors or the world, but as a beacon of freedom and justice."

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