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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

06 January 2005

No Advantage in Delaying Iraqi Election, Coalition Chief Says

Most of Iraq is already sufficiently secure for voting, Metz reports

By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Staff Writer

Washington -- Each Iraqi ballot that is cast in the January 30 elections will be a vote against the insurgency that has sought to derail Iraq's movement toward democracy, says U.S. Army Lieutenant General Thomas Metz.

Metz, who is the commanding general of the Multi-National Corps in Iraq, says the insurgents are destined to fail because they have not coalesced into a popular movement. The only tool left in the insurgents' tool kit, he told reporters in Baghdad January 6, is inflicting brutal intimidation on those around them.

The general told questioning reporters there is no advantage in delaying elections in Iraq. Delaying the elections would be "the wrong thing to do" because it would allow the insurgents more time to carry out acts of intimidation and cruelty, he said. If a delay were mandated, he said, there might be an even greater chance of civil war.

Kidnapping, torture and murder have not popularized the insurgency, Metz said, and the insurgents have not been able to articulate a common strategy with any popular appeal. Part of the reason, according to his analysis, might be that there are so many varieties of insurgents: some are driven by ideology, for example; while others are only dropping in and out of the movement in an effort to feed their families.

The only clear goal of the insurgency, he said, seems to be squeezing as much publicity as possible out of each attack. Even though the enemy is prosecuting a campaign of intimidation to try to promote a climate of fear in Iraq, he said, the desire for freedom is too strong now.

Metz's goal is a successful, prosperous, free Iraq that does not harbor terrorists. That Iraq will be a great example for the world that has been focused on the war against terrorism, he said.

With 21 days left before Iraq's elections, Metz said 15 of 18 Iraqi provinces are already sufficiently secure to allow voters to cast ballots. Within three weeks, he predicted that some problematic provinces would be in even better condition for voting.

With each passing day, Metz said, Iraq's capacity to handle security requirements increases. Iraq's security and police forces are becoming increasingly effective as U.S. and coalition forces mentor them, and, he said, the Iraqis will be even more successful as they mature in their new role. With every fight, Iraqi forces have done better, the commander said.

Iraqi rather than coalition forces will be securing the polling sites at the end of January, according to Metz. Coalition forces will be available to provide technical advice as needed, he said, or quick-reaction assistance if required. The U.S. role is to serve as a partner to a sovereign government, he said.

Metz says all Iraqi constituencies should vote in order that a constitution can be written. That act, in turn, will pave the way for a second round of elections in a year or so, he said, when Iraq will be even more secure.

Asked about the announced Sunni boycott of the upcoming elections, Metz said part of being a democracy means exercising the right to participate. He said he hopes the Sunnis will take part, but he said it is their right to choose not to do so.

On other security matters, Metz said more aggressive security patrols are under way in Baghdad because the capital seems to be the focus of insurgent operations.

Most of the approximately 70 daily attacks by insurgents all across Iraq have focused on coalition forces, Metz said in answer to a question from a reporter. But he also acknowledged that there has been an increasing focus on Iraqi security forces and on senior Iraqi civilian leaders such as the recent murder of the governor of Baghdad. He expressed his condolences for all the Iraqi civilians and members of security and coalition forces who have died for the important cause of Iraqi freedom.

Metz said coalition operations are under way to pursue terrorists wherever they move now that their safe haven in Fallujah has been eliminated. Although there are no guarantees that every Iraqi can travel to the polling place in absolute safety on Election Day, he said, everything possible would be done in the coming weeks to create favorable conditions for voting.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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