Edition: Thu, October 20, 2005
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In short, with the Iraqi government, our strategy - the key - is to clear, hold, and build: clear areas from insurgent control, hold them securely, and build durable, national Iraqi institutions.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State


Supporting Iraq's Move Toward Democracy

In 2005, the emphasis was on transition: a security transition to greater reliance on Iraqi forces and a political transition to a permanent, constitutional democracy. The just-concluded referendum was a landmark in that process.

In preparation for 2006, Iraqis need further help as they hold another vital election in December. Well over nine million Iraqis voted on Saturday, October 15, 2005. Whether Iraqis voted yes or no, they were voting for an Iraqi nation, and for Iraqi democracy.

U.S. objectives in 2006:

- Break the back of the insurgency so that Iraqis can finish it off without large-scale U.S. military help.

- Keep Iraq from becoming a safe haven from which Islamic extremists can terrorize the region or the world.

- Demonstrate positive potential for democratic change and free expression in the Arab and Muslim world, even under the most difficult conditions.

- Turn the corner financially and economically, so there is a sense of hope and a visible path toward self-reliance.

Milestones and Accomplishments:

- In August 2004, five Iraqi regular army battalions were in combat. Today, 91 Iraqi regular army battalions are in combat. All of these battalions have American advisors

- With more capable Iraqi forces, strategic implementation can begin - neighborhood by neighborhood. As the strategy is implemented, the military side recedes and the civilian part - like police stations, civic leaders, economic development -- move into the foreground. The transition strategy emphasized building of the Iraqi army. Now police training efforts are receiving new levels of attention.

- The last two years have seen three temporary governments govern Iraq, making it extremely difficult to build national institutions even under the best of circumstances. The new government to come can finally set down real roots. To be effective, that government must bridge sects and ethnic groups. And its institutions must not become the tools of a particular sect or group.

- The situation has improved in places like Haifa Street in Baghdad, or Baghdad's Sadr City, or downtown Mosul, or Najaf, or Fallujah.

- Security along the once notorious airport road in Baghdad has measurably improved. Najaf, where American forces fought a major battle last year, is now entirely under independent Iraqi military control.

Iraqi's must become players in their future destiny-

- Iraqis must continue to come together in order to build their nation.

- The Iraqi government must forge a more effective partnership with foreign governments.

- Iraq must forge stronger partnerships with the international community beyond the United States.

Source: Rice Lays Out U.S. Priorities in Iraq for 2006