Terrorism in Iraq a "Desperate" Effort
Terrorism in Iraq a "Desperate" Effort to Counter Progress, U.S. Says
McClellan, Boucher, Bremer briefings September 2
By Wendy S. Ross - Washington File White House Correspondent
Washington -- The terrorist attacks in Iraq -- at the Jordanian Embassy and U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, and at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf -- show "how desperate" the remnants of the former regime and the foreign terrorists are to counter the important progress being made towards self-government in Iraq, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters September 2.
On September 2 another car bomb struck police headquarters in central Baghdad, killing an Iraqi policeman and wounding at least 13 others, according to news reports.
"[T]he more progress we make, the more desperate those cold-blooded killers become, the remnants of the former regime," McClellan said. "This was a brutal regime, and they are becoming more desperate as we move forward. And foreign terrorists who are coming into Iraq, because they are enemies of freedom, they are enemies of the Iraqi people, they are enemies of a better future for the Iraqi people. That's what you're seeing.
"And that's why we are taking the fight to them, that's why are on the offensive going after these foreign terrorists, going after these remnants of the former regime. We are bringing them -- the remnants of the former regime to justice. We have captured some just recently. And we will continue to do so. Our military's doing an outstanding job. And Iraqis are assuming more and more responsibility as we move forward," McClellan said, noting that Iraq's Governing Council September 1 named a cabinet of 25 ministers to serve in an interim government until elections are held.
McClellan briefed reporters at the White House, following the return to Washington of President Bush from a month-long working vacation in Texas.
Characterizing the coalition efforts in Iraq as "critical to winning the war on terrorism," McClellan said international participation "has been and will continue to be an important part" of the U.S. overall strategy there.
"[W]e are continuing to make sure that all the resources necessary are dedicated to this effort," he said.
"This is something that we are reaching out to the international community on. They have been playing a vital role; they will continue to play a vital role. This is an effort by a coalition. We will continue to have discussions with the U.N. about additional ways we can encourage other countries to participate as well."
A number of countries, McClellan said, "are already participating in our efforts in Iraq, and we are in close discussion with other countries about how they can participate. We welcome the help of other countries."
The United Nations, he said, "is participating very closely with our Coalition Provisional Authority in our efforts in Iraq. The U.N. will continue to have a vital role in Iraq as we move forward. We continue to have discussions at the U.N. about ways we can encourage more international troops."
Iraq, McClellan said, is "a long-term, major undertaking, and it's an international issue that requires international response. And we are continuing to have those discussions with other countries. We're continuing to discuss this at the U.N. The U.N. has a very vital role to play in this process. They have been playing a vital role, such a vital role that you saw that ... the U.N. headquarters [in Baghdad] was attacked by those who seek to stop the progress, those who are enemies of the Iraqi people."
State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters September 2 that the terrorist attacks in Iraq are attacks on the efforts to move forward politically through the Governing Council.
And despite the attacks, he said, "we continue to have progress" in Iraq.
The Governing Council, by naming its cabinet ministers, is taking more and more responsibility for the operation of the ministries, he said.
"[D]espite the efforts of some to hold back the Iraqi people, hold back the political process, and hold back the prospects for Iraqis generally, we and the Iraqi people and the Governing Council continue to move forward."
He pointed to a growing capability by the Iraqis to take control of their own security, as well as their own future, including some increases in electricity production, greater numbers of Iraqi security people, border guards, and the increasing number of policemen, civil defense forces being organized.
"And so, we will continue to move forward with that process because that's essentially what we need to do is help the Iraqis stand up and take charge of their own country, including its security and its political future."
Asked who he thought was responsible for the August 29 car bombing at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, that killed and wounded hundreds, Boucher would not speculate. But he said "some of these events often work in opposite ways than the bombers might intend. So, we'll just have to see what the political effect is over time.
"I think the determination of the coalition, of the Iraqis already involved in rebuilding their country, of Iraqis, generally, to provide security for themselves and provide a political future for themselves, may be, in fact, strengthened by the event."
Boucher noted that the international community has made substantial contributions on the humanitarian side to Iraq and said some 30 nations are "there on the ground with military forces," to help provide security. "So, there is substantial contributions already that have been made by the international community to reconstruction and stability in Iraq," he said.
"And now, we're working on preparing for a donor's conference in Madrid in October that would go forward with additional contributions. There's a lot of work being done to prepare for that."
Briefing reporters in Iraq September 2, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, said "terrorism has a very ugly and evil face, and the fight against terrorism is a worldwide fight. Iraq is now one of the fields of battle, and we're going to have to win that battle here. And we will win that battle here."
Bremer said Iraq, by appointing a cabinet, "has taken a third important step toward sovereign self-government.
"The first step was the formation of the Iraqi Governing Council in July. Last month, the Governing Council appointed a preparatory committee, which will determine the means by which Iraq will, for the first time, write her own constitution. And now, there are Iraqi ministers responsible for the executive functions of Iraq's government," Bremer said.
"The path ahead to full Iraqi sovereignty is clear and visible. First, a constitutional convention or some similar mechanism to write a new, permanent constitution for Iraq. Second, that constitution will be submitted to the Iraqi people for approval in a referendum. And third, Iraqis will then hold elections, which will produce a fully sovereign Iraqi government.
"Working with the Governing Council and Cabinet, I pledge the coalition's close support and assistance as we move together down this path."