By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
April 18, 2007 – Coalition efforts are underway to help the Iraqis in the important business of building their nation's rule of law, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said today during a briefing in Baghdad "Iraq has a proud history of legal development -- a history they will need to draw upon as they emerge from the tyranny of these last forty years," said Caldwell, Multinational Force-Iraq spokesman. He noted that Hammurabi, former King of Babylon ( Iraq's name in ancient times) produced one of the first written codes of law in about 1260 B.C.
"The Iraqi security forces and coalition forces are hard at work to improve the security situation so the Iraqi people can make progress building their government and their laws," Caldwell said.
For about two months now, he said, coalition and Iraqi forces have been executing Operation Enforcing the Law.
"We have seen both inspiring progress and too much evidence that we still face many grave challenges," Caldwell said. "We have always said that securing Baghdad would not be easy. Last week, events illustrated exactly what kind of enemy the Iraqi people face.
"Murderers blew up a bridge," he said. "They attacked the cafeteria of the Iraqi Council of Representatives. They showed that as Iraq builds, they will try and destroy. They showed that they will meet unity and law with violence and attempts to divide."
Last Friday, the Iraqi Council of Representatives met and unanimously passed a resolution condemning these "vicious and senseless attacks," he said. "Their resolve is a clear illustration that people can disagree about many things, but all agree that law must stand against murder."
Coaltion officials are seeing evidence of this commitment in the streets, he noted. As Iraqi Security Forces move into joint security stations and increase their presence, they're gaining the confidence of the people. This leads to growing confidence in the "professionalization" of the Iraqi Security Forces and the belief that they can be loyal to all their people.
"This is producing greater cooperation, particularly in the form of tips," Caldwell said. "Security forces are being directed to more stockpiles of weapons and are taking more guns and bombs out of the hands of murderers."
The number of episodes of sectarian violence is down and some families are returning to their homes in flashpoint areas, he added. Signs of progress extend beyond Baghdad, Caldwell said.
A year ago, many considered Al Anbar Province lost to lawlessness, he said. "Today the people of Al Anbar are drawing lines in the sand, rejecting violence and fighting al Qaeda."
Last month, they held a security conference to coordinate their stand, he said, and this led to a strong show of support for the forces of law and order, he said.
"Recruits for the ISF in that region have increased this month from 500 in the first week to over 1,500 candidates in the second week - that's a growth of about 300 percent. Over the last two months, violent attacks are down 50 percent. The combined casualties from those attacks are down about 65 percent.
"Improvements in security, led by increasingly capable Iraqi forces and institutions, are what enable coalition forces to transfer responsibility to the Iraqis," he said, noting that earlier in the day, Maysan Province became the fourth of 18 provinces to be turned over to Iraqi control.
"Four years ago, Iraqis lived under the rule of fear," Caldwell said. "Two years ago, too many Iraqis lived under the rule of the gun. Just one year ago, 12 million Iraqis chose the rule of law. Since then many brave Iraqis have worked to develop that rule of war. Multinational Force-Iraq works every day to support their efforts."
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