Abizaid Says Success in Iraq, Afghanistan Requires Allied Effort
|Monday July 7, 2003
(Defense Department Report, July 7: Iraq; Liberia; CENTCOM; Terrorism) (1150) The new commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) says achieving success in Afghanistan and Iraq will require not only military muscle but also the economic, political, intelligence and diplomatic efforts of the United States and its friends and allies throughout the region and the world. Army General John Abizaid made his observation as he assumed command on July 7 from retiring Army General Tommy Franks, who led the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In his brief remarks at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, the new commander also talked about the war against terrorism, which he described as a war without borders. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who also spoke at the change of command ceremony, said existing remnants of the past regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq mean that a scaled-back version of the wars in each country will continue for some time. The secretary said there is no one more qualified to step into Franks' "large footsteps" at CENTCOM than Abizaid, whom he described as a "leader for the 21st century." Abizaid has been Franks' deputy at CENTCOM, speaks fluent Arabic, is of Lebanese descent, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, has a degree in Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University, taught special forces in Jordan, participated in "Operation Provide Comfort," which supported the Kurds in Iraq in the 1990s, and has served in the military in Bosnia, Germany, Grenada and the Persian Gulf. Rumsfeld also paid tribute to Franks for the innovative war plan that he conceived and executed in Iraq in April. The secretary said it demonstrated his ideas on transformation, joint participation by all of the services, and the critical ability to project power and precision. Franks served as CENTCOM commander for three years. NO TIME TABLE FOR U.S. MILITARY ASSESSMENT IN LIBERIA Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Larry DiRita says no particular time line has been established for the U.S. military assessment team that has been dispatched to Liberia. DiRita, who has replaced Pentagon spokesman Victoria Clarke who resigned last month, told reporters at the Pentagon July 7 that the team's mission is to look at the circumstances on the ground in Monrovia. He said he was not in any position to speculate on what might be the next steps or priorities in Liberia. DiRita reminded his audience that President Bush has not made any decision yet about sending a U.S. peacekeeping force to Liberia. IRAQI FOUNDER OF DEMOCRACY FORUM CITES NEW FREEDOMS Emad Dhia, director of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council, who has just spent two months in Iraq together with other Iraqi volunteers working to rebuild their country, says there is no question that his fellow Iraqis "feel free" for the first time in 34 years. Iraqis are actively "speaking their minds" now, he said, without fear of retribution. As evidence of some of their newly found freedoms, he noted the existence now of some 50 Iraqi newspapers covering a broad spectrum of public opinion. Dhia made his comments July 7 during a briefing at the Pentagon as he prepared to return to Iraq after a short visit to the United States to share his recent experiences with the military and the press. He said many Iraqi families are frustrated because of repeated sabotage of recently repaired power grids in Iraq just at the time when most students are trying to prepare for final exams. Addressing the security issues in Iraq, Dhia said the situation would remain problematic as long as remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime are intact. While many Iraqis want to enjoy their newly gained liberty and participate in the democratic process, he said, other Iraqis are still fighting and causing trouble because they want to try to retain privileges that they had during Saddam Hussein's rule. The newly reconstituted Iraqi Ministry of Education has done a good job of weeding out many high-ranking Ba'athists at the university-level, Dhia said. He also pointed to the fact that the university has elected its own president for the very first time. As to the existence of other Ba'ath holdovers, he said they would remain "until we take them out." Dhia, who was the founder of the Iraqi Forum for Democracy, emphasized that a new era really is under way in Iraq. He pointed out that it takes time to organize all the elements of a working democracy. He also noted that three months in not long for all that has been accomplished in Iraq. Acting Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita, who introduced Dhia, said even though violent incidents continue -- including the recent murder of a U.S. soldier taking a soda break at the University of Baghdad -- he urged taking a broad view of conditions, noting that the University is fully operational in a post-Saddam Hussein environment. He also noted the recent successful U.S.-sponsored weapons collection program and the fact that many wanted Iraqis are now in custody. DiRita described July 7 as the most significant day for Iraq since April 9, when Saddam Hussein's regime came to an end, because the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Ambassador Paul Bremer, met with the interim city advisory council in Baghdad. The member council deals with local issues and makes recommendations and suggestions in the context of managing basic services in the capital. ENEMY COMBATANTS EVALUATED FOR POSSIBLE PROSECUTION President Bush determined July 3 that six enemy combatants currently in U.S. custody are eligible for consideration for possible prosecution by military commissions. A senior Defense Department official, who briefed reporters about the legal process on the same day as the president's decision, said "there is reason to believe that each of these enemy combatants was a member of al-Qaeda or was otherwise involved in terrorism directed against the United States" because there is evidence that they may have attended terrorist training camps. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz will be the one to decide whether or not to approve any charges the prosecution might bring against the combatants and refer any charges to an appointed commission, the official said. A guilty verdict would require a two-thirds vote, according to the briefer, who declined to be identified. There is no timetable pushing the military commission process, the official said. "We've been proceeding very methodically and deliberately and carefully." The president's decision is part of an unfolding process, and the official said there might be additional individuals selected for prosecution. The official indicated that the war on terrorism is open-ended. The individuals who are in custody now are being held because "they're enemy combatants in an ongoing armed conflict," he said, and not because any charges have been proffered or criminal activity conducted.
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