After the elimination of al-Zarqawi, Iraq has the chance to seize the initiative on the emotional and political war on terror within Iraq by standing up a proper democratic government.
In an opinion published in the New York Post, Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of the new Republic of Iraq, affirms the commitment our effort has shown by standing strong on the type of efforts this young government needs to embrace on which to gain the confidence of the Iraqi people, the respect of its neighbors, and the support of democracies throughout the world.
Excerpts from the New York Post -
AN IRAQI STRATEGY FOR SAVING IRAQ
By NOURI AL-MALIKI - June 12, 2006 - BAGHDAD, IRAQ
THE completion of the national unity government Thursday in Iraq marks the starting point for repaying Iraqis' commitment to and thirst for democracy. We are at this juncture thanks to the bravery of the soldiers, police and citizens who have paid the highest price to give Iraq its freedom. Our national unity government will honor these sacrifices by pursuing an uncompromising agenda to deliver security and services to the Iraqi people and to combat rampant corruption.
We will draw on the country's untapped workforce to kick-start extensive reconstruction, put into motion an initiative for genuine national reconciliation, and increase the intensity and efficacy of building the military and police.
We will embark on a national reconciliation initiative, to begin to heal the divisions and wounds brought on by Saddam Hussein's dictatorial rule and further widened by terrorism. This, along with genuine cooperation among all of Iraq's ethnic and religious groupings in this national unity government, will allow us to pursue the terrorists with maximum force.
We will launch an initiative to secure the capital and confront the ethnic cleansing that is taking place in many areas around it. We will meet head-on the armed gangs and terrorists who we believe constitute the main threat to security. Furthermore, we will develop and strengthen the country's intelligence services, which represent the best form of defense against terrorist bombings.
This government will implement Law 91 to incorporate the militias into the national security services.
We will also fight corruption from the top down. We will revamp and strengthen our anti-corruption watchdog, the Commission for Public Integrity, and initiate necessary political, economic and civil reforms. This will include gradual reductions in government subsidies, which impede Iraq's economic recovery and abet corruption, coupled with the establishment of a social security program for the least privileged.
Finally, to achieve this vision, it is necessary that Iraq's neighbors not interfere in its internal matters. While some neighboring countries provided refuge for many Iraqis during the rule of the dictatorial Baathist regime, this does not give them a right to meddle in Iraq now or turn a blind eye to terrorists' operations.
Iraqis have elected a national unity government that will always put national interests ahead of sectarian or ethnic agendas. This government will support the judiciary in relentlessly pursuing the murderers and kidnappers who have blighted Iraqi society. With the help of the international community and regional partners, we will be able to defeat the terrorist groups in Iraq.
The scale of the task ahead is humbling. Iraqis have time and time again demonstrated their patience and perseverance in the face of many challenges. With our allies, we will also persevere to make Iraq a prosperous democracy in the heart of the Middle East.
May we all become believers and supporters in the success of the new Iraq. Long live the vision and efforts of Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of the Republic of Iraq.