President Bush says there has been progress in Iraq in the three years since the fall of
Baghdad. But he makes clear resolving the current struggle to come up with a unity government is crucial.
The president acknowledges the task of forming a unity government is difficult, saying Iraqis are trying to build a democracy on what he calls, "the rubble of tyranny."
"They are undertaking a difficult process, with little democratic experience and with the scars of nearly three decades of Saddam Hussein still fresh on their mind," said Mr. Bush.
He says differences are understandable, but stresses Iraq's leaders must demonstrate the will to overcome these obstacles as soon as possible.
"Moving beyond past divisions to build a strong democracy requires strong leadership, and, now is the time for Iraqis to step up and show the leadership," he noted.
In a speech to foreign policy students in Washington, Mr. Bush emphasized that many people have taken great risks and given their lives, in order to bring freedom to Iraq. He said their sacrifices should not be in vain.
"Americans have made great sacrifices to help Iraq get to this point. Iraqi voters risked their lives to go to the polls. Iraqi soldiers and police have given their time to make this moment possible," he added. "And, so, Americans and Iraqis alike are waiting and watching to see what this sacrifice will produce, and we both expect results."
The president told his audience at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies that the success of democracy in Iraq is crucial to the region. And he urged Arab leaders to show greater support for the effort.
"Arab leaders need to recognize that the choice in Iraq is between democracy and terrorism, and there is no middle ground," reminded President Bush. "Success of Iraqi democracy is in their vital interests."
Mr. Bush went on to note that the broader international community has already pledged more than $13 billion in assistance to Iraq. He said many governments have been slow to make good on their commitments, and he urged them to follow through on their promises as quickly as possible.