United States President George W. Bush says Iraq has become the main front in the war on terror and insisted that success in Iraq is the key to stopping al-Qaida.
President Bush defended US policy in Iraq and accused Islamist radicals of seeking to enslave and intimidate the world. In a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy, President Bush said there are parallels between the ideology of Islamist militants and communism, and said al-Qaida's ultimate goal is to establish a single, radical, religious state in the Middle East.
"The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia."
Citing the recent terror attacks in London and Bali, President Bush called America's enemies, the enemies of the world. He warned of more sacrifices ahead but said the United States and its allies are making significant progress.
"Overall the United States and our partners have disrupted at least 10 serious al-Qaida terrorist plots since September 11th, including three al-Qaida plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more al-Qaida efforts to case targets in the United States or infiltrate operatives into our country," said Mr. Bush.
But the President said it is Iraq that is the front-line today His policy there faces a crucial test this month when Iraqis vote on a new constitution, a vote that president Bush says terrorists will try to derail.
The U.S. military death toll in Iraq is approaching 2000, and U.S. public support for the war is declining, but the President insists that a U.S. pullout from Iraq is an invitation for more violence.
U.S. lawmakers are still willing to fund the war but the Senate went against the White House's wishes and added an amendment to a military spending bill that imposes restrictions on the treatment of terrorism suspects. The amendment, introduced by Senator John McCain would prohibit the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners, regardless of where they were held.
The president spoke mostly about terrorist organizations but he also had a warning for Iran and Syria, that governments offering support to terrorists are equally guilty of murder.
And British Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested a link between those countries and violence in Iraq, saying explosive devices used in recent attacks against British troops may have come from Iran or from Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia backed by both Syria and Iran.
"The particular nature of those devices lead us either to Iranian elements or to Hezbollah, because they're similar to the devices used by Hezbollah that is funded and supported by Iran," said Mr. Blair.
Iran has categorically denied the charges.