Rumsfeld vows to defeat Iraqi extremists

Wext: Monday, 13.September. @ 00:00:00 CEST


11. Sep. 2004 - Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, on Friday vowed that the US would not allow extremist insurgents to maintain sway over Falluja or other rebel strongholds in Iraq.

Reponding to criticism that the US occupation force and the Iraqi government had allowed extremists to set up no-go areas, Mr Rumsfeld pledged to regain control, either by force or through diplomatic negotiation.

"We know what will take place in Falluja and that is that it will be restored under the control of the Iraqi government eventually," said Mr Rumsfeld. "What we don't know is whether it will be done peacefully or by force. But one way or another, it will happen."

Extremists have become entrenched in Falluja since a US marine attack was called off four months ago on fears of an escalation in tensions between Iraqis and coalition forces. On Friday US forces resumed a fourth day of bombing of Falluja following a suicide car bomb attack earlier this week that killed seven US soldiers outside the town.

The Bush administration has recently admitted that insurgents have created strongholds in the Sunni triangle in central Iraq, and in particular in towns such as Falluja.

Attacks on US troops have remained stubbornly high and more than 1,000 US soldiers have now been killed in Iraq, the great majority of them since President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat in May last year.

"The Iraqi government and certainly the coalition military understand fully that you cannot over a sustained period of time allow portions of that country to be under the control of people who are using it to kill Iraqis or to kill coalition forces and to try and kill and damage the new Iraqi government," said Mr Rumsfeld.

With national security a central issue in presidential campaign, Mr Rumsfeld emphasised the importance of remaining vigilant in the war on terror.

This week vice-president Dick Cheney suggested that voting for John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, could result in another attack on the US. Mr Kerry responded that the Bush administration's handling of Iraq had made the US less safe.

Mr Rumsfeld criticised an editorial in yesterday Financial Times that suggested it was time to consider a structured withdrawal of US forces from Iraq to reduce instability.

"The extremists are determined to destroy states. They are determined to destroy free systems. They are determined to take their violence and spread it across this globe and we can't let them to it. And the Financial Times is wrong."

Mr Rumsfeld compared the war on terrorism to the cold war, saying people would have to be resolute. Before the Republican convention last month, Mr Bush said the war on terror could not be won, White House officials later said his remarks were intended to emphasise the long nature of the struggle.

Mr Rumsfeld also also dismissed recent criticism of military investigations into the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, and rejected claims that the panel headed by James Schlesinger, former defence secretary, to review detention policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, was not independent

Source: FT

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