WASHINGTON – President Bush and members of his administration spoke optimistically on the progress made by Iraqi leaders to form a united government yesterday on the third anniversary of the U.S.-led offensive that ousted former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Bush spoke on the White House South Lawn on Sunday and said he was encouraged by Iraq’s continuing steps towards democracy. Amidst growing concern over the wave of sectarian violence in Iraq, Bush assured Americans that his administration is "implementing a strategy that will lead to victory in Iraq" and that he sees reasons for hope in signs that Iraqi politicians are forming a government of national unity.
"I encourage the Iraqi leaders to continue to work hard to get this government up and running," the president said.
Although Bush conveyed a positive perspective on the Iraq situation, the anniversary was marked with protests around the country and the world as thousands of antiwar demonstrators gathered in cities from London to Tokyo.
Some 200 people gathered in New York and marched down Fifth Avenue to protest the war and demonstrators marched through New Orleans declaring that the slow recovery "illustrates the cost of the war in Iraq," reported the Washington Post.
According to reports, the war has left more than 2,300 U.S. troops dead and has killed at least 30,000 Iraqis.
Meanwhile, a poll by Washington Post-ABC News this month discovered that two-thirds of Americans question whether the United States has a clear plan in dealing with the situation in Iraq.
Another poll released by the Gallup organization on Mar. 16 showed that highly religious Americans, Protestants, and other non-Catholic Christians are most supportive of the Iraq war. In contrast in, frequent churchgoers, those who identify with non-Christian religions, and those with no religious identification were found to be least supportive.