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US Administrator in Iraq:  Violence is Last Gasp From Saddam Loyalists - 2003-07-01


The U.S.-led civilian administration in Iraq says the recent upsurge in violence against coalition forces is worrisome, but not a threat to its goal of establishing a democratic Iraq.

The head of the Coalition Provincial Authority, Paul Bremer, is dismissing rising speculation here that each new attack against coalition troops is a sign of a spreading revolt.

U.S. troops in Iraq have been ambushed daily for weeks. Since Saturday, there have been at least 10 attacks against U.S. troops that have resulted in casualties, including two separate attacks on Tuesday in Baghdad.

Mr. Bremer insists the violence is the last gasp from loyalists of Iraq's deposed leader, Saddam Hussein, and not a reaction of ordinary Iraqis angry at the United States.

"So, these few remaining individuals who have no desire or ability to fit into this new free Iraq, not surprisingly, are becoming more and more desperate," emphasized Mr. Bremer. "And they continue to attack, not only coalition forces, but the infrastructure which serves the Iraqi people. The coalition will succeed in its goal to establish real freedom and democracy in Iraq."

"Make no mistake about it," he continued. "We will succeed. And until these individuals realize that, they will remain in our sights. Meanwhile, we will continue work on our strategic priorities: law and order, economic reform, and political progress."

Earlier in the day, Mr. Bremer and American military commanders briefed nine visiting U.S. senators, including the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, on the progress that has been made so far in coalition efforts to bring stability and to restore basic services to Iraq.

The ranking member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, told reporters that while he is satisfied overall with developments so far, he believes more must be done to put Iraqis in charge of running the country sooner rather than later.

"We should be very, very determined to have the Iraqis take over the civilian aspects of their government as quickly as possible," he said. "We can not wait until the military forces leave for the Iraqi civilian presence to be felt and to be put in place."

Senator Warner says U.S. military commanders have not asked for additional troops to augment the 146,000 currently deployed in Iraq. The commanders are expecting about 30,000 troops from other countries to arrive in Iraq in the next three months to bolster coalition forces.

But some of the senators say they are convinced that a significant number of U.S. troops will have to stay in Iraq for a number of years in order to stabilize the country.