President Bush said military success has led to a better quality of life in Iraq in an address Thursday morning.
“The surge is yielding major changes in Iraqi political life,” Bush said at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
“In Anbar Province -- which 18 months ago was declared ‘lost’ to al Qaeda -- we joined with the brave local sheiks who launched the first large-scale Arab uprising against al Qaeda,” Bush said. “Together, we've systematically dismantled al Qaeda in that province. In just over a year, Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, has seen its average number of attacks plummet from more than 18 per day to less than one per week. It's becoming clear that Anbar has not been lost to al Qaeda -- that al Qaeda has been -- has lost Anbar. And that's important, because this is the place where al Qaeda leadership has said they will find safe haven from which to launch further attacks against the United States of America. “
Bush credited Iraqis for taking active roles in helping American forces secure their communities. He said, “People have stepped up and said we’re sick and tired of our families having to live in violence, we can’t stand the thought of people who murder the innocent to achieve political objectives, and we intend to do something about it. And they have!”
He also applauded the Iraqis for ratifying the “most democratic Constitution in the Arab world” and holding elections in which 12 million people participated in 2005. He admitted there were setbacks in the year 2006, which prompted his decision to send a “surge” of 21,500 additional troops to Iraq in January 2007.
Bush’s remarks preview the forthcoming testimony to Congress of General David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker about progress being made in Iraq scheduled for early April.