09/23/2004, 00.00
USA - IRAQ
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Thank you America, Allawi tells Congress, with the elections we shall defeat terrorism

Iraq is emerging from barbarism. Democracy is not for the West alone.

Washington (AsiaNews) – Offering a simple "Thank you America!" Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told the US Congress that his country was succeeding in its rebuilding effort after the war that led to Saddam Hussein' downfall.

Despite difficulties and resistance, the Prime Minister insisted, the "values of freedom and democracy" are progressively taking root in Iraq. "Today," he said, "we are better off, you are better off, the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. [And while] your decision to go into Iraq was not an easy one, it was the right one."

Allawi spoke about the ongoing violence, the recent disturbing images, the stories of people tortured, decapitated, and killed. He also spoke of the violence that he, his family and friends suffered under Saddam's regime, a regime that killed at least 300,000 people whose bodies were thrown in mass graves. With this in the background, it is not hard to see that Iraq has made progress against barbarism. "I have come here to thank you and promise you that your sacrifices are not in vain," he stressed.

Allawi pointed to the country's remerging life, to the schools that are reopening, to hospitals that are working, to a country that is getting ready for elections.

To those who say that chaos reigns in Iraq, he replied: "We could hold elections tomorrow in 15 of 18 provinces [. . .] Even though the insurgency is destructive, it is small and has not and will never resonate with the Iraqi people." The upcoming elections may not be perfect, he cautioned, but they will be free and fair and will represent a "giant step" in Iraq's and the Middle East's evolution.

Declaring himself "a realist", Allawi said his government was trying to broaden the political process, drawing in as many segments of Iraqi society as possible in an effort to weaken the insurgency and that the struggle for stability in Iraq was linked to the international fight against terrorism.

The Prime Minister, who started his speech to Congress by reciting the Qu'ran's profession of faith ("In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the merciful . . ."), also said that Iraqis want an Islam that is spiritual, peaceful, in harmony with other peoples.

He concluded saying that freedom and democracy are not Western prerogatives but something the every Iraqi wants. Iraqis, he stressed, will not accept any regime. They all want to enjoy human rights.

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