Saturday, December 17, 2005

Iraqi Elections Overwhelming Success

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and top U.S. commander Gen. George W. Casey Jr issued a joint statement hailing the sweeping success of this week's elections in Iraq. They said in that statement, "All reports indicate that Iraqis from all communities and regions turned out in large numbers with only limited reports of violence and irregularities. This is a signal that the people of Iraq have chosen to become active participants in their country's future." ( Sunni Leader Open to Coalition Government).

In a dramatic shift, insurgent groups reached an agreement before the elections not to stage attacks, and many resistance groups actually provided protection for the polling places during the historic elections. Sunni communities that boycotted the first elections experienced overwhelming turnout as all factions embraced the democratic process.

Successful elections of a government recognized and supported by the Iraqi people are critical to the success of our mission in Iraq. This week's elections mark the greatest leap forward towards the goal of a free and sovereign Iraq capable of defending themselves and managing their own affairs. Said Casey, "We should not expect the insurgency to just go away because of yesterday's great success. But we should expect it to be gradually weakened and reduced as more and more Iraqis adopt the political process and the root causes of the insurgency are addressed by the new Iraqi government and by the coalition."

Anyone that has doubts as to whether or not we are winning this war, not only in Iraq but across the Middle East, need only look at the dramatic success of these elections. We are experiencing a dramatic shift in the attitude of the Iraqi people. We now see three major adversaries - Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds - working together to implement a coalition government. They are developing a government not under the duress of a tyrant in Baghdad, but rather a government that is of their own making and with the support of their people.

These are new desperate days for the insurgency. After a taste of freedom, captivity is no longer the same. The Iraqi people are now getting their first tastes of that freedom. The insurgency's days are, indeed, numbered. Al Qaeda is in disarray with 5 of their top 6 leaders dead or captured, Syria is under siege amid more reports that Damascus was involved in the Hariri assassination, and Iran is effectively isolated in the international community over their attempts to obtain nuclear capability.

Final victory in this region is certainly in reach. A major battle was won this week; a battle that, like our own Gettysburg, may well be the deciding factor in this war. There's still more work to do, and we will certainly see more insurgent attacks as they desperately face the end-game. Yet, the momentum is overwhelmingly on the side of the Iraqi people and the coalition supporting them. The insurgency cannot defeat us. The insurgency cannot defeat the Iraqi people's march towards democracy. The greatest threat to this process and to victory now is the impatience of the American press and the outspoken naysayers in Congress that would have us cut and run now with the finish line in sight. The greatest enemy we face now in Iraq is our own resolve. Let's not be the cause of our own defeat.


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