By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 14, 2008 - Security operations in Iraq's Diyala province have achieved success, in part, because coalition and Iraqi forces are working in proximity to and with the support of Iraqi citizens, a senior U.S. Army officer in Baghdad said yesterday. Ongoing security operations in Diyala province that have contributed to greatly lessened violence there "are going well," Multinational Force Iraq spokesman Brig. Gen. David G. Perkins told reporters.
"Over the past 18 months, we have seen time and again in Iraq that security is sustainable with support and service from the people," Perkins said. "Part of the success of the partnership between Iraqi and coalition forces has been our ability to live close to the people and provide them with immediate and urgent help."
Success in providing timely support to Iraqi citizens "has sustained reconciliation," Perkins observed.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's amnesty program for citizens who cease support of insurgents continues to make notable progress, Perkins said.
"Indeed, the success in Diyala has been heavily driven by the local populace rejecting the violence of al-Qaida in Iraq's ideology, supporting the enforcement of law, and the mutual collaboration between the people in Diyala province and the Iraqi security forces," Perkins said.
Iraq's central government is very involved in ascertaining the needs of its people, Perkins said, citing recent meetings between senior Iraqi government authorities, U.S. officials and Diyala's citizens.
"We visited the people of Diyala and the local authorities to discuss the security situation, reconstruction and reconciliation," Perkins recalled. "During the visit, the delegation assembled the immediate and long-term needs of the people and began discussions on how the government can best use the $100 million allocated to meet the needs of the people."
As security continues to improve in Diyala province, Perkins said, projects will provide jobs, better medical services, and improved electricity services, along with agricultural loans and grants and help for displaced families returning to their homes.
"So, as people in Diyala assist security forces in rooting out terrorists and criminals in their neighborhoods, the government is helping people by allocating funds to restore services and creating opportunities for the people to improve their lives," the two-star general said.
Hope grows brighter for Iraqis today, Perkins said, as their government improves the ability to drive Iraq's long-term development and builds the institutional capacity for expanded business activity and investment.
"Just as security improvements have taken time and sacrifice, so will the improvements in services and economic development," Perkins said.
Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari, spokesman for the Iraqi Defense Ministry, who accompanied Perkins at the news conference, noted that recent security operations conducted in Diyala province are Iraqi-planned and -led.
Askari said he believes the improved security environment will foster broader participation in the Iraqi elections that are slated this fall. Many Sunni residents had opted out of the previous election.
"All different ethnicities and parties are going to participate in this election," Askari predicted.