Bush Announces Five-Step Plan for Democracy,
Freedom in Iraq
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
May 24, 2004
FACT SHEET: THE TRANSITION TO IRAQI SELF-GOVERNMENT
"The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq would deny terrorists a base of
operation, discredit their narrow ideology, and give momentum to reformers
across the region. This would be a decisive blow to terrorism at the heart of
its power, and a victory for the security of America and the civilized world."
- George W. Bush, May 24, 2004
Today's Presidential Action
In a speech at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, President
Bush reported to the Nation on our strategy in Iraq and the specific steps we
are taking to achieve our goal. Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by
all: To see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in
generations. America's task in Iraq is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to
give strength to a friend -- a free, representative government that serves its
people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved, the
sooner our job will be done.
The President announced five steps in his plan to achieve freedom and democracy
in Iraq. We will:
1. hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government;
2. help establish the stability and security in Iraq that democracy requires;
3. continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure;
4. encourage more international support; and
5. move toward free, national elections that will bring forward new leaders
empowered by the Iraqi people.
1. Handing Over Authority to a Sovereign Iraqi Government
On June 30, full sovereignty will be transferred to a government of Iraqi
-- At that time, the Coalition Provisional Authority, led by Ambassador Paul
Bremer, will cease to exist and will not be replaced.
-- Iraqis will govern their own affairs. The Iraqi Interim Government's primary
responsibilities will be to run the day-to-day operations of Iraq's government
and ministries, increase security, and prepare the country for national
The New United States Embassy. Ambassador John Negroponte will oversee the new
embassy and ensure that all resources and efforts of the United States are
mobilized to help Iraqis build security and democracy in their country.
-- Our embassy in Baghdad will have the same purpose as any other American
embassy -- to assure good relations with a sovereign nation.
-- The United States and other countries will continue to provide technical
experts to help Iraq's ministries, but these ministries will report to Iraq's
new Prime Minister.
The Iraqi Interim Government. United Nations Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has
outlined a framework for an interim government.
-- The Brahimi framework calls for a President, two Vice Presidents, and a Prime
Minister leading a Cabinet with 26 ministers who will oversee government
departments, from health to justice to defense.
-- The President will serve as head of state and the Prime Minister will serve
as chief executive.
-- This new government will be advised by a national council, which will be
chosen by Iraqis representing their country's diversity.
-- The Iraqi Interim Government will operate under rules defined in the
Transitional Administrative Law (TAL). The TAL provides a historic bill of
rights for the Iraqi people and a roadmap to a permanent and elected government
Many Functions of Government Have Already Been Transferred to Iraqis. In
preparation for sovereignty, many functions of government have already been
transferred. Twelve government ministries are now under the control of Iraqis.
In addition, many of Iraq's cities and towns now have elected town councils or
2. Establishing the Stability and Security in Iraq that Democracy Requires
Working with the Iraqis to Defeat Common Enemies. Coalition forces and the Iraqi
people have the same enemies -- terrorists, illegal militia, and Saddam
loyalists who stand between the Iraqi people and their future as a free nation.
Working as allies, we will defend Iraq and defeat these enemies.
After the transfer of sovereignty, United States and Coalition forces will
remain in Iraq and will operate under American command as part of a
multinational force authorized by the United Nations.
-- Our forces will remain under U.S. command and will have clear rules of
-- We will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary.
General Abizaid and other commanders in Iraq are constantly assessing the level
of troops they need to fulfill their mission. If they need more troops, they
will get more troops.
-- The tactics of our military will be flexible. Commanders on the ground will
pay close attention to local conditions.
Iraqi Security Forces. Iraq's military, police, and border forces have begun to
take on broader responsibilities. Eventually, they must be the primary defenders
of Iraqi security.
-- In Fallujah, we are making security a shared responsibility. Coalition
commanders have worked with local leaders to create an all-Iraqi security force,
which is now patrolling the city. We want Iraqi forces to gain experience and
confidence in dealing with their country's enemies. We want the Iraqi people to
know that we trust their growing capabilities -- even as we help build them. At
the same time, Fallujah must cease to be a sanctuary for the enemy, and those
responsible for terrorism will be held to account.
-- In the cities of Najaf, and Karbala, and Kufa, most of the violence has been
incited by a young, radical cleric who commands an illegal militia. These
enemies have been hiding behind an innocent civilian population, storing arms
and ammunition in mosques, and launching attacks from holy shrines. Our soldiers
have treated religious sites with respect, while systematically dismantling the
illegal militia. We are also seeing Iraqis themselves take more responsibility
for restoring order. In recent weeks, Iraqi forces have ejected elements of this
militia from the governor's office in Najaf and cleared out a weapons cache from
a large mosque in Kufa. Respected Shia leaders have called on the militia to
withdraw from these towns, and ordinary Iraqis have marched in protest against
-- Iraq and its armed forces will be a principal partner in the Coalition. Iraqi
forces will be under Iraqi civilian control and there will be an Iraqi national
chain of command for their forces. We will build a strong partnership --
mechanisms for coordination and consultation -- with Iraqi institutions in order
to support the Iraqi Interim Government's efforts to lead Iraq to elections
early next year.
In some cases, the early performance of Iraqi forces fell short. We have learned
from these failures and have taken steps to correct them.
-- Successful fighting units need a sense of cohesion -- so we have lengthened
and intensified training.
-- Successful units need to know they are fighting for the future of their own
country, not an occupying power -- so we are ensuring that Iraqi forces serve
under an Iraqi chain of command.
-- Successful units need the best possible leadership -- so we improved the
vetting and training of Iraqi officers and senior enlisted soldiers.
At the direction of President Bush, and with the support of Iraqi authorities,
the United States is accelerating our program to help train Iraqis in the
defense of their country.
-- A new team of senior military officers is now assessing every unit in Iraq's
-- The President has directed this team to help oversee the training of a force
of 260,000 Iraqi soldiers, police, and other security personnel.
-- Five Iraqi army battalions are now in the field, with another eight
battalions to join them by July 1. The eventual goal is an Iraqi army with 27
battalions in the field, fully prepared to defend their country.
3. Continuing to Rebuild Iraq's Infrastructure
Significant Progress to Date. The United States and its Coalition partners are
committed to improving the quality of life for the Iraqi people and continuing
to make investments in Iraq's key infrastructure and economy. The United States
is dedicating more than $20 billion to reconstruction and development projects
-- The Coalition has helped refurbish more than 2,200 schools, 240 hospitals and
1,200 health clinics, repair bridges, upgrade the electrical grid, and modernize
the communications system.
-- Oil production is now more than 2 million barrels a day, bringing revenues of
nearly $6 billion so far this year -- which is being used to help the people of
-- A new currency has been introduced, and Iraq's Governing Council approved a
new law that opens the country to foreign investment for the first time.
-- A private economy is taking shape in Iraq. Stores have opened, satellite
dishes and other quality-of-life goods are now available to the Iraqi people,
and private businesses and services like Internet cafes that were once banned
are now opening.
International Support. Thanks in part to the efforts of former Secretary of
State James Baker, many of Iraq's largest creditors have pledged to
substantially reduce Iraqi debt incurred by the former regime. And at the urging
of the Coalition, 37 countries, and the IMF and World Bank, have so far pledged
$13.5 billion in aid for Iraqi reconstruction.
A Modern Prison System. A new Iraq will also need a humane, well supervised
prison system. Under Saddam Hussein, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of
death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a
few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values.
America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison. When
that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then, with
the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison, as
a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning.
The Challenge of Rebuilding. Over the decades of Saddam's rule, Iraq's
infrastructure was allowed to crumble while money was diverted to palaces, wars,
and weapons programs. We have made great strides, but there is still much work
to do. Even after June 30, we will continue to work with Iraqi leaders to
address problems related to Iraq's insufficient infrastructure.
4. International Support for a Free Iraq
Building Strong International Support. Today, the United States and Great
Britain presented a new resolution in the U.N. Security Council to help move
Iraq toward self-government. The President has directed Secretary Powell to work
with fellow members of the Council to:
-- endorse the timetable the Iraqis have adopted;
-- express international support for Iraq's interim government;
-- reaffirm the world's security commitment to the Iraqi people; and
-- encourage other U.N. members to join in the effort.
The President will travel to the NATO Summit in Istanbul next month where he
will thank our 15 NATO allies who together have more than 17,000 troops on the
ground in Iraq.
-- Great Britain and Poland are each leading a multinational division that is
securing important parts of the country. NATO is giving helpful intelligence,
communications, and logistical support to the Polish-led division.
-- At the NATO Summit, the leaders will discuss NATO's role in helping Iraq
build and secure its democracy.
5. Working for Free, National Elections by January 2005
U.N. Election Team. A U.N. team is now in Iraq helping to form an Independent
Election Commission that will oversee an orderly and accurate national election.
-- In that election, the Iraqi people will choose a Transitional National
Assembly, the first freely elected, truly representative national governing body
in Iraq's history.
-- This Assembly will serve as Iraq's legislature, and it will choose a
Transitional Government with executive powers.
-- The Assembly will draft a new constitution, which will be presented to the
Iraqi people in a national referendum scheduled for the fall of 2005.
-- Under this new constitution, Iraq will elect a permanent government by the
end of 2005.
Completing the Transition
We Will Succeed. Completing the five steps to Iraqi elected self-government will
not be easy. There is likely to be violence before the transfer of sovereignty,
-- The terrorists and Saddam loyalists would rather see many Iraqis die than
have any live in freedom.
-- President Bush, our Coalition partners, and the Iraqi people will not allow
terrorists to determine the future of Iraq. American troops are in Iraq to
defend our security and make the Iraqi people free.
-- Our terrorist enemies seek to impose Taliban-like rule on all of the Middle
East, training more killers and exporting more violence. They seek to shock,
frighten, and demoralize the civilized world into failure and retreat. They will
Securing America and the World. We believe that freedom can advance and change
lives in the Greater Middle East, as it advanced and changed lives in Asia,
Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa. We believe that when all Middle
Eastern peoples are finally allowed to live and think and work and worship as
free men and women, they will reclaim the greatness of their own heritage. And
when that day comes, the bitterness and burning hatreds that feed terrorism will
fade and die away. America and the world will be safer when hope has returned to
the Middle East.
(end fact sheet)