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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Washington File

17 April 2003

"A Free Country Run By Free People," by Zalmay Khalilzad

(Wall Street Journal article by White House envoy to Iraqis Zalmay
Khalilzad) (1040)
(This column by Zalmay Khalilzad, who is President Bush's special
envoy and ambassador-at-large for Free Iraqis, first appeared in the
Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2003, and is in the public domain. No
republication restrictions.)
(begin byliner)
A Free Country Run By Free People
By Zalmay Khalilzad
(Mr. Khalilzad is President Bush's special envoy and
ambassador-at-large for Free Iraqis, and led the U.S. delegation to
the Free Iraqi conference in Nasiriyah. This piece is based on a
speech he gave there.)
Nasiriyah, Iraq -- There has been a gathering of Free Iraqis here, and
I am filled with hope as I look around at those who have come together
to discuss Iraq's future. The tyranny of Saddam Hussein's regime is
truly over, and we are savoring a victory for the Iraqi people. The
United States, Britain and other members of the coalition made a
promise to disarm the dictator and to free the people of Iraq. We are
in the final stages of delivering on that promise.
America's promise to Iraq today is to be its partner, and to help Iraq
move toward a representative government, one that respects the
principles of justice, the rule of law and the rights of the Iraqi
people. The U.S. will deliver on this promise, too, and will be with
the Iraqis for as long as it takes -- until the job is done.
Our task is to build a democratic Iraq. In my meetings with free
Iraqis before Operation Iraqi Freedom -- whether in London or in Iraqi
Kurdistan and elsewhere -- and from what we've heard in recent days
from Iraqis who are now free, it is clear that, among other things,
Iraqis desire democracy. None of us, American or Iraqi, thinks that
this is going to be quick or easy. History shows how challenging it is
to build a democracy -- it was so in the U.S., for sure, and elsewhere
in Europe, and in Asia. Iraq will be no exception.
But people everywhere share the same aspirations -- security,
prosperity, freedom and self-government. And Iraq is a country vibrant
in its heritage, its religious faith, its resources and its people.
Iraq's very diversity -- the mosaic of Sunni and Shiite Arabs, Kurds,
Turkmens, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Yazidis and others -- is a source of
tremendous richness and talent. Iraq's choices over the coming weeks
and months will determine the process toward a democratic country and
a new government responsible to all Iraqis.
The coalition supports the formation, as soon as possible, of the
Iraqi Interim Authority -- a transitional administration, run by
Iraqis, until a government is established by the people of Iraq
through elections. The Interim Authority should be broad-based and
fully representative. It will also be temporary. Iraq in the past has
had interim constitutions that lasted too long, and transitional
leaders who overstayed their welcome.
This week is the beginning of the road toward democracy in Iraq. Our
meeting here in Nasiriyah, with representatives of the Iraqi people,
is the first in a series of consultations with Iraqis in different
parts of the country. None of these meetings will choose a government
for Iraq. Rather, they will be forums for Iraqis to discuss their
ideas about the formation of the Iraqi Interim Authority, and to
foster an Iraqi national dialogue. Based on these consultations, a
formula for constituting the Iraqi Interim Authority will be arrived
at. The Interim Authority will gradually increase its authority and
will provide the means for Iraqis to participate increasingly in the
economic and political reconstruction of their country.
There will need to be accountability and reconciliation in Iraq. What
should be done to the top leadership of the Baath party will be an
important issue that Iraqis will need to decide collectively. The
special position and privileges of the Baath party have already
stopped as a matter of practice. That will need to be translated into
law. Iraqis, as a society, must decide how to treat differently those
who led the crimes of the past regime, on the one hand, and those, on
the other, who joined the Baath party at the lowest levels, and are
not necessarily culpable in any crimes. There should be room for those
Iraqi civil servants -- teachers, police and irrigation engineers, for
example -- who in the past have done their best to serve their
country, not Saddam's tyranny.
The United States has no desire to govern Iraq, and I have made that
clear in all my discussions here. The Iraqi people should govern their
own affairs as soon as possible. As President Bush said, "The Iraqis
are plenty capable of governing themselves." The American interest is
to see that the weapons of mass destruction of the Saddam regime are
identified and destroyed, that terrorists are apprehended, that the
humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people are met, that security is
established and that the Iraqi people are freed and empowered to build
their own future.
We also appreciate the many immediate difficulties that the Iraqis are
facing, and are taking steps to mitigate the severity of their
hardship. With freedom comes responsibility -- including the
responsibility of not taking the law into one's own hands, but dealing
with grievances in an organized, lawful manner. To this end, we will
work with Iraqis and others to achieve stability.
The decision of who ultimately governs Iraq is a decision for the
people of Iraq. They have suffered terribly under the brutal
dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Like people everywhere, they deserve
liberty, and to live in peace under leaders they have chosen for
themselves. They deserve a government that respects the rights of
every citizen and ethnic group. They deserve a country that is
reunited, that is independent, and that is released from years of
sanctions, isolation, and sorrow. As President Bush has said, "Our
coalition has one goal for the future of Iraq -- to return that great
country to its own people."
America will be Iraq's partner as Iraqis move toward peace, democracy,
and prosperity. Their security will be our security, their success
will be our success.
(end byliner)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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