Bob's Weekly Report - The Iraqi Elections: Exercising New Freedoms
DATE: February 4, 2005
On January 30th, history was made as the people of Iraq exercised a freedom denied to them for over 50 years: the right to vote in a free election. For the last 35 years, the Iraqi people were victims of tyrannical dictators who used the power they assumed to terrorize and oppress their citizens.
More than 100,000 Iraqi security force personnel guarded polling places and conducted operations against terrorist groups. There were more attacks on January 30th than on any other day in Iraq in two years. The courage and determination of the Iraqi people was overwhelming evident as they turned out to vote despite the danger and threat. Millions of Iraqis waved their purple tipped fingers with pride as they came out of the voting stations: a message to the world that they choose freedom.
The success of the Iraqi elections is a positive first step in spreading democracy in the place of tyranny to a part of the world that has not seen much of it. While a free nation is not exempt from struggle and adversity, it is more likely to remain peaceful. The elections in Iraq, as well as the free Palestinian elections in early January, bring hope that the seeds of democracy will take root and that liberty and freedom will spread to become commonplace in the Middle East. Just this week, leaders from Israel and Palestine agreed to summit meetings that will hopefully result in a mutual ceasefire.
Though our troops in Iraq continue to meet opposition by insurgents, we must finish the job. There are a greater number of Iraqi citizens who have been inspired by liberty and look forward to participating in a free government. On Wednesday night, the President paused during his state of the union address to recognize the parents of a solider killed in Iraq. As the parents stood, Safia Taleb-Al-Suhail, an Iraqi woman seated in front of them, turned and embraced the grieving mother, thanking her for her son's great sacrifice. Earlier in the week, Safia had taken her four-year-old son with her to the polls to vote. Safia's father was murdered years ago by Saddam Hussein's henchmen, and on Sunday she voted so that her son may know of freedom, liberty, and justice.
We, along with the Iraqi people, will continue to fight terror and oppression. I applaud the people of Iraq for their determination and courage to make their voices heard and their votes count. It is through the hard work and sacrifice of our American troops that the ideals of freedom continue to be spread. We thank them and may God bless them.