President George W. Bush says that the security situation in Iraq has improved, thanks to an additional thirty thousand troops and a strategy focused on driving terrorists and militias out of their strongholds. Mr. Bush cited the case of Anbar province, once a haven for al-Qaida:
"I sent an additional four thousand marines to Anbar as part of the surge. Together, local sheiks, Iraqi forces, and coalition troops drove the terrorists from the capital of Ramadi and other population centers. Today a city where al-Qaida once planted its flag is beginning to return to normal."
President Bush says that the success in Anbar province is being duplicated elsewhere in Iraq. And there has been progress in dealing with Shi'a terrorists too, he says:
"One year ago, Shi'a extremists and Iranian-backed militants were gaining strength and targeting Sunnis for assassination. Today, these groups are being broken up, and many of their leaders are being captured or killed."
Mr. Bush says the security gains in Iraq can be maintained with fewer American forces. Five-thousand seven hundred U.S. troops are slated to leave Iraq by Christmas.
The U.S., says Mr. Bush, is determined to stand with Iraq to defeat the terrorists and extremists that threaten its future. Failure would have devastating consequences, says Mr. Bush:
"Extremists of all strains would be emboldened. Al-Qaida could gain new recruits and new sanctuaries. Iran would benefit from the chaos and would be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region. Extremists could control a key part of the global energy supply. Iraq could face a humanitarian nightmare. Democracy movements would be violently reversed."
"A free Iraq is critical to the security of the United States," said Mr. Bush. "A free Iraq will deny al-Qaida a safe haven. A free Iraq will counter the destructive ambitions of Iran. A free Iraq will marginalize extremists, unleash the talents of its people, and be an anchor of stability in the region."