The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 28, 2007

Making America Safer by Defeating Extremists in the Middle East

President Bush Explains Why Winning The Fight In Iraq Is Key To Countering The Ambitions Of Al Qaeda And Iran

Today, President Bush Will Address The American Legion National Convention In Reno, Nevada, To Explain Why Defeating Extremists In The Middle East Is Essential To American Security – And Why Success In Iraq Is Vital To Winning This Battle. America is engaged in a great ideological struggle against violent Islamic extremists around the world, and the fight for the future of the Middle East is a key aspect of this struggle.

If Violent Extremists Were Allowed To Prevail In The Middle East, The Region Would Be Dramatically Transformed In A Way That Could Imperil The World

The Violent Islamic Radicalism That Inspires Extremists In The Middle East Has Two Main Strains. Allowing these forces of radicalism to drive America out of the Middle East could result in disaster for the region's people, danger to our friends and allies, and a direct threat to American peace and security.

  1. The First Strain Is Sunni Extremism, Embodied By Al Qaeda And Its Terrorist Allies. These extremists hope to impose their dark vision across the Middle East by raising up a violent and radical caliphate that spans from Spain to Indonesia. They kill fellow Muslims in places like Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia in an attempt to undermine their governments. And they kill Americans because they know we stand in their way – they attacked U.S. Embassies in Africa in 1998, attacked the USS Cole in 2000, killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11, and plot to attack us again.

  2. The Second Strain Is Shia Extremism, Supported And Embodied By Iran's Government. Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and the United States is working with friends and allies around the world to confront the danger presented by actions of Iran's government. Iran's leaders threaten the security of nations everywhere by:
    • Actively pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons;
    • Arresting visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime;
    • Backing Hezbollah terrorists who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon;
    • Funding the terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories;
    • Sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which can be used to attack American and NATO troops and Afghan civilians; and
    • Sending arms to extremists in Iraq that are used against Coalition and Iraqi troops, and Iraqi civilians.

These Two Dangerous Strains Of Extremism Vying For Control Of The Middle East Have Now Closed In On Iraq In An Effort To Bring Down Its Young Democracy

Sunni Extremists, Led By Al Qaeda, Are Staging Sensational Attacks On Innocent Men, Women, And Children In Iraq In An Attempt To Stoke Sectarian Violence. These violent extremists' ranks include foreign fighters from a variety of countries in the region who travel to Iraq through Syria. Their operatives have killed those seeking to build a new future for the Iraqi people, and their operations seek to create images of chaos and carnage to break the will of the American people. Their targets include everyone they consider infidels – including Christians, Jews, Yezidis, Shia, and even fellow Sunnis who do not share their radical distortion of Islam.

Shia Extremists, Backed By Iran, Are Training Iraqis To Carry Out Attacks On Our Forces, The Iraqi Government, And The Iraqi People. Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs). With the assistance of Hezbollah, they have provided training for violent forces active inside Iraq.

The Fight In Iraq Has A Direct Impact On The Safety Of Americans Here At Home. We have seen what violent extremists will do when American forces are actively engaged in Iraq, and we can envision what they would do if they were emboldened by American forces in retreat. For all those who ask whether the fight in Iraq is worth it, imagine an Iraq where militia groups backed by Iran control large parts of the country, and al Qaeda has established sanctuaries to safely plot future attacks on targets all over the world, including the U.S. Homeland – and they could use billions of dollars in oil revenues to buy weapons and pursue their deadly ambitions.

The Momentum Is On Now Our Side In Iraq – Our New Strategy Is Seizing The Initiative From Our Enemy, And Giving It To The Iraqi People

Our New Strategy Is Showing Results In Better Security.

Our New Strategy Is Resulting In Encouraging Developments At The Local Level, And As Iraqis Take Control Over Their Lives At The Local Level, They Will Demand More Action From Their National Leaders In Baghdad. In the cities and neighborhoods where they live, Iraqis are increasingly reaching accommodations with each other, with the Coalition, and with the government in Baghdad. This reconciliation is coming from the bottom up; it is having an impact in the fight against the enemy; and it is building a solid foundation for a democratic Iraq.

Iraq's Government Still Has More Work To Do To Meet Many Of Its Legislative Benchmarks, But It Is Also Important To Note That Many Of The Goals Behind These Benchmarks Are Being Achieved Without Legislation. For example, the national government is already sharing oil revenues with provinces – despite the fact that no formal law has been passed.

Our Strategy Is Also Showing Results At The International Level. The international community increasingly understands the importance of a free Iraq, and we will continue to rally the world to this noble and necessary cause.


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