The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 12, 2005

Fact Sheet: Democracy in Iraq

      National Strategy for Victory in Iraq

Today's Presidential Action:

Today, The President Addressed Iraq's Incredible Political Transformation. Two and a half years ago, Iraq was in the grip of a cruel dictator. Since then, Iraqis have assumed sovereignty of their country, held free elections, drafted a democratic constitution, and approved that constitution in a nationwide referendum. In three days, they will go to the polls for the third time this year and choose a new government under their new constitution. Difficult work remains, but 2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq, the Middle East, and freedom.

The United States Is Following A Comprehensive Strategy To Achieve Iraqi Constitutional Democracy. One of the Coalition Provisional Authority's (CPA) most important tasks was bringing Iraqis into the decision-making process after decades of tyrannical rule. Three months after liberation, the Coalition worked with the United Nations (UN) and Iraqi leaders to establish an Iraqi Governing Council. The Governing Council gave Iraqis a voice in their own affairs, but it did not satisfy the hunger of Iraqis for self-government. So in the summer of 2003, the Coalition proposed a plan to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people after appointed Iraq leaders had drafted a constitution, put that constitution before the people, then held elections to choose a new government. This initial plan met with disapproval, and the approach was adjusted. In November 2003, we negotiated a new plan with the Iraqi Governing Council. Under the plan, the Iraqi Governing Council wrote and adopted a new Transitional Administrative Law, which guaranteed personal freedoms and set four major milestones to guide Iraq's transition to a constitutional democracy.

The Iraqi People Have Built Momentum For Freedom And Democracy, But Difficult Work Remains. Throughout this process, Iraqis have proved wrong the skeptics and pessimists who declared Iraqis not ready for self-government. By meeting their milestones, Iraqis are defeating a brutal enemy, rejecting a murderous ideology, and choosing freedom over terror. This week's elections will not be the end of the process, and our Coalition and the new Iraqi government will face many challenges, including in four critical areas.

Democracy In Iraq Will Inspire A Region And Help Defeat An Enemy. When the new government takes office next year, Iraqis will have the only constitutional democracy in the Arab world, and Americans will have a partner for peace and moderation in the Middle East. People across the broader Middle East are drawing inspiration from Iraq's progress, and the terrorists' most powerful myth is being destroyed. In a 1998 fatwa, Osama bin Laden argued that the suffering of the Iraqi people was justification for his declaration of war on America. Now, bin Laden and al-Qaida are the direct cause of the Iraqi people's suffering. As more Muslims see this, they are turning against the terrorists. As liberty spreads across the Middle East, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, recruits, and the sanctuaries they need to plan attacks.

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