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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

22 January 2007

Extremists Seen Trying To Derail New Plan for Iraq

Political reconciliation progressing, says White House spokesman

Washington -– White House spokesman Tony Snow called for continued resolve in the face of the latest outbreak of Iraqi violence launched by elements seeking to derail the renewed effort to secure Iraq.

Iraq’s enemies are “not going to go quietly into the night,” Snow told journalists at a January 22 White House press briefing, because “they know that the media will focus on body counts and will focus on large acts of violence.”

“That, for the terrorists, is a victory,” he said.

In Baghdad January 22, a car bomb tore through the stalls of one of the capital city’s busiest markets.  A second one detonated minutes later targeting onlookers and emergency responders aiding injured Iraqis.  The Iraqi Health Ministry reported that 78 Iraqis were killed and 156 wounded in the twin bombings.  Later, a bomb and mortar attack on a town north of Baghdad killed 12 more Iraqis.

Snow said that these and other recent attacks were calculated to demoralize the population, even as thousands of Iraqi and U.S. troops prepare to enter the region, clearing the capital’s neighborhoods of violent elements and establishing regular patrols to keep terrorists from returning, then working with area residents to help them repair and rebuild their communities.  (See related article.)

“What's really going on is that you can expect, as there is pushback, that there is going to be some increase in violence,” Snow said. 

In President Bush’s January 10 speech announcing the new U.S. strategy for Iraq, Bush warned that “our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering.  Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents.”  (See related article.)

“Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shi’a want to live together in peace,” Bush said, “and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.”

Snow also reported steady progress on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s goal of reconciliation among the country’s ethnic and religion-based political parties. This, he said, is pushing insurgents, foreign terrorists and sectarian militias closer and closer toward defeat.

U.S. officials have cited these efforts, as well as legislation to distribute energy revenues more equitably and reform of the initial employment bans on members of the former ruling Ba’ath Party, as key political reforms that would help stabilize Iraq in the coming months.

“I think what you're seeing is a clear signal that the Maliki government is very serious about addressing on a nonsectarian basis the problem of those who are trying to operate outside the law,” Snow said.

Snow said that Iraq, a central focus of U.S. foreign policy, would figure prominently in the president’s January 23 State of the Union Address. (See related article.)

“Iraq certainly is the central front in the War on Terror. If you take a look at the country, it's bracketed by Iran and Syria; a nation where a successful democracy would send a very powerful signal, including to people in Iran and Syria who would love to see democracies in their own countries,” Snow said.

A transcript of Snow’s remarks is available on the White House Web site.

For more information, see Iraq Update.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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