Confident Allawi says 'Thank you, America'
WITH a simple "Thank you, America" yesterday, Ayad Allawi, Iraq’s interim prime minister, gave the United States Congress an upbeat assessment of his country’s future.
Mr Allawi told the Senate and the House of Representatives that "we are succeeding in Iraq" and elections will occur "on time in January, because Iraqis want elections on time". He said: "There would be no greater success for the terrorists if we delay and no greater blow when the elections take place, as they will, on schedule."
With a script that could have been written by the White House, Mr Allawi delighted Congress, gaining several standing ovations.
President George Bush’s advisers hope that the performance will ease US voters’ doubts about the troubled campaign in Iraq. Despite setbacks, Mr Allawi claimed that "the values of liberty and democracy" are taking hold in Iraq. "We could hold elections tomorrow" in 15 of 18 provinces, he said.
"The insurgency in Iraq is destructive but small, and it has not and will never resonate with the Iraqi people."
Despite the violence in Iraq and recent polls suggesting most Iraqis want US-led forces to leave, Mr Allawi insisted his country was grateful for the US-led invasion. "Today, we are better off, you are better off, the world is better off without Saddam Hussein," he said. "Your decision to go into Iraq was not an easy one, but it was the right one."
Mr Allawi echoed several of Mr Bush’s statements on Iraq, and sought to tie his country’s struggle to the larger fight against global terrorism.
Later, with Mr Allawi next to him, Mr Bush declared that insurgents could "plot and plan attacks elsewhere, in America and other free nations", if the US took its troops out of Iraq.
In a clear jab at John Kerry, Mr Bush said the US must remain to fight insurgents, who, he said, are part of the global terror threat.
But Mr Kerry said Mr Allawi was sent before Congress to put the "best face" on a policy that has gone wrong. "I think the prime minister is contradicting his own statement of a few days ago, where he said the terrorists are pouring into the country," Mr Kerry said.
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