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Iraqi Ambassador: "Jubilation" In The Streets

(CBS)
Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Samir Shakir Sumaida'ie said on "Washington Unplugged" Thursday that Iraqis are filled with "pure delight" and "jubilation" over Iraqi forces taking over security in Baghdad and other major cities from U.S. forces.

"People are happy," said the ambassador, who spoke of parties in the streets. "People recognize this as a milestone in the progress of Iraq towards normality and sovereignty."

He downplayed recent reports on increased violence in northern portions of the country. "This is more of a statement intended for the media rather than for any actual military or political results," the ambassador claimed. "The insurgents, terrorists, people who are trying to stabilize the regime have in fact been defeated. But they are trying to say, we are still here, we can still inflict pain."

"We believe that these will eventually die out," he argued.

Sumaida'ie agreed that Iran exerts some influence over the Iraqi parliament and but put the onus on his country's institutions.

"Whether Iran will meddle or not meddle will be a function of how strong our own institutions are. The only defense against foreign powers meddling is to strengthen our own institutions. And that's what we are doing every day."

Asked about the sectarian divisions which threaten most legislation facing the Iraqi parliament, Sumaida'ie referred to physical sectarian violence: "There is hardly any sectarian violence. Two years ago, you had, daily, 40,50, 60 bodies in the street every day in Baghdad. Now this is a thing of the past. And if you compare us with countries like Northern Ireland for example, which have a history of sectarian violence, we've made huge progress in a very short time."

Watch the full interview as well as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's John Hannah on "Washington Unplugged" below.


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