By Melinda L. Larson
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 25, 2007 - More Iraqis are stepping forward to defend their democracy as young men sign up for the army, police patrol the streets, and joint coalition and Iraqi operations double, President Bush said during today during his weekly radio address. "As the Iraqi people feel more secure, they are also forming neighborhood watch groups. They're volunteering important information about the terrorists and extremists hiding in their midst," Bush said.
The increase in tips helps account for the marked reduction in sectarian murders, Bush said. Also, driving out terrorists from cities and neighborhoods creates conditions for reconciliation at the local level, he said.
"Despite continuing violence, leaders in places like Anbar, Najaf and Ninewah are now working through local provincial councils to approve funds to finance the rebuilding of homes and neighborhoods, to fight corruption, and to create new jobs," Bush said.
Bush added it can be easy to overlook the bravery shown by Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians who are in the fight for freedom, but American troops on the ground see it every day.
He related the story of Army Staff Sgt. Sean Kane, one of four American soldiers whose life was reportedly spared by an Iraqi civilian who intercepted a suicide bomber last week in Baghdad while American soldiers were meeting with an Iraqi citizens group.
"Suddenly, a suicide bomber came running around a corner and headed straight for our soldiers and the Iraqi civilians," Bush said.
One Iraqi man saw what was happening and ran to intercept the bomber, Bush said.
"As he pushed the terrorist away, the bomb detonated – killing both men, but sparing four American soldiers and eight Iraqi civilians," Bush said.
Later that same night, the citizens group contacted the local director of the Iraqi National Police and told him the location of the al Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the attack. A raid was conducted that resulted in four arrests, Bush said.
New surge operations began in Iraq in June and the president emphasized that it is still the early stages of the new operations, but the success of the past two months has shown that conditions on the ground can change.
"We cannot expect the new strategy we are carrying out to bring success overnight," Bush said.
Bush said he is confident that helping Iraqis build democracy in their country will benefit Americans and people throughout the Middle East.
"By standing with the Iraqi people as they build their democracy, we will deliver a devastating blow to al Qaeda, we will help provide new hope for millions of people throughout the Middle East, we will gain a friend and ally in the war on terror, and we will make the American people safer," Bush said.