Monday, June 14, 2004

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that Iraqis must be willing to kill their own insurgents for order to be restored in the post-Saddam era.

Mr. Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice warned of further attacks on Iraqi government officials in appearances on the Sunday talk shows, on the same day that 12 Iraqis were killed when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad. More than a dozen were injured.

“It’s hard to protect an entire government,” Mr. Powell said during a “Fox News Sunday” interview. “It’s going to be a dangerous period, and these murderers have to be defeated.”

In another incident yesterday, a gunman assassinated Kamal Jarrah, a senior official in Iraq’s Education Ministry.

On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Mr. Powell called the security situation “long and hot and bloody right now,” and answered “yes,” when asked by host Tim Russert whether Iraqis must “be willing to kill fellow Iraqis if need be to put down the insurgency.”

“I think they understand that perfectly,” Mr. Powell said. “They know that they are being challenged. They don’t want to go back to the past.”

Miss Rice, meanwhile, lamented the killing of Iraqi officials. “These are very sad events when Iraqi patriots are gunned down by these traitors and by these terrorists,” she said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

But, she said, “there will likely be more violence, not less” as the June 30 date for the transfer of sovereignty nears, because insurgents “are people who have no future in a free Iraq.”

“They know that they have no future,” she said. “We have good partners now in this Iraqi government, who will be tough, we believe, on terrorism, tough on the insurgents who are trying to stop progress, and sooner or later this will be under control.”

The violence has not been exclusively Iraqi on Iraqi, though. During the past two weeks, 23 coalition troops have died, 17 of them U.S. soldiers.

Other attacks last week appeared to be focused increasingly on members of the new government.

On Saturday, gunmen assassinated Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Bassam Salih Kubba, a Sunni and former Ba’athist. Firing from a car, the assailants pumped bullets into Mr. Kubba’s white Mercedes in the same Baghdad neighborhood that a day earlier saw an influential Sunni cleric criticizing the new leadership for inviting foreign troops to remain in Iraq.

In the same neighborhood Wednesday, assailants exchanged fire with bodyguards of Deputy Health Minister Ammar al-Safar. Last month, a suicide car bomb killed Izzadine Saleem, a Shi’ite who had headed the now-disbanded Iraqi Governing Council.

“These random, senseless acts of violence only prove that anti-Iraqi forces have no regard for the people of Baghdad, or the future of this country,” Lt. Col. James Hutton, spokesman for the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad, said in a statement.

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority is set to give sovereignty to a recently appointed interim Iraqi government, headed by President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, which will be in power until national elections next year.

Mr. al-Yawer yesterday said the recent attacks were “an act of somebody who wants to destabilize Iraq, to drain off Iraq of qualified, capable people.”

“These are random killings,” he said in a “Meet the Press” interview. “We hope that by re-establishing, reinstating our security forces, these things will start diminishing.”

Mr. al-Yawer said fighting the insurgents was a “collective job” in which Iraqi and coalition forces need to engage together.

“But we’re still suffering from the outcome of leaving the border lines wide open and leaving people without jobs from security and defense entities,” he said.

He also said he does not believe the attacks will suddenly end with the transfer of sovereignty.

“It’s going to be terrible for a while,” he said, adding that respite could be found by looking at the whole of the Iraqi people, who “whether public or other political parties, are rallying behind this government.”

“This is a sign of strength,” Mr. al-Yawer said.

Asked whether Iraqis will be willing to kill fellow countrymen to stabilize the situation, he responded: “Definitely.”

While he said Iraq presently lacks the security forces and capabilities to put down the insurgency, he added, “there is no nation in the world who wants to rely on somebody else defending their security.”

In another development yesterday, Mr. Powell said he will meet tomorrow with teams from the State Department and the CIA to find out how erroneous data were included in an April U.S. government report on global terrorist incidents.

The report incorrectly said terrorist attacks dropped to 190 last year, when in truth, the number of attacks has risen considerably. Mr. Powell denied that the figures had been manipulated for political gain.

“Nobody was out to cook the books,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”

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