Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Progress in Iraq - Rep. Mark Kennedy

Congressman Mark Kennedy of Minnesota has visited Iraq 3 years in a row and has seen huge progress there. Rep. Kennedy reports via Powerline Blog:
In August, 2004, we landed at a military-controlled Baghdad International Airport controlled in a cork screw pattern to avoid being fired at. This time we landed straight on at that same airport, which is now under civilian control, and has not experienced an attack for a year. As we flew on Blackhawk helicopters over Baghdad this year, I saw school yards filled with young students and streets throughout the city choked with traffic. Last visit, General Petraeus introduced us to the first Iraq battalion to graduate from the then new Iraqi Military Academy the day after they engaged the enemy for the first time. Today, 40 Iraqi battalions (750 men each) can take the lead and Lt. General Dempsey said that nearly 100,000 more Iraqi Security Forces will be on hand for December’s elections than were on hand for January’s election. Since August 2004, the Iraqi people gave the terrorists an ink stained finger as they voted in January with a high turnout among all voters, including Sunnis, and approved a constitution last month. On December 15, they elect a permanent government under that constitution. In August 2004, we had to fly in and out of Iraq every day, this year we spent the evening in Baghdad. General Casey said that day by day, progress is not always easy to see. I told him that year by year, thanks to the great work of America’s military and Foreign Service, it is evident and remarkable.
Skipping details about training security forces...
Al Qaeda in Retreat American commanders say that we have never been better positioned against Al Qaeda in Iraq, not just because of the victories we are achieving cutting off their supply lines along the Euphrates River with Operation Steel Curtain, but because of their recent attacks turning the Iraqi people against them. Recent Al Qaeda attacks against everyday Iraqis – Sunni and Shia alike, the Zawahiri letter to Zarqawi, capped off with the Amman, Jordan bombing have undermined their support. Saddam on Trial U.S. liaison to the trial of Saddam said that it was important for the Iraqi people to create a record of the atrocities that Saddam inflicted on his people and to ensure justice is done by holding the perpetrators to account. He said that if you asked an Iraqi, who in their family was one of the 300,000 still missing, or was held without trial, tortured or killed by Saddam, “a cousin would be as far away as they get.” One of the cases brought against Saddam was 135 women and children holding their toys, each with a small arms bullet to their head, lying side by side in a mass grave. It is inconceivable to me that some would say that we should not have overthrown this brutal tyrant and have let this suffering go on.

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