Remarks by Walid Maalouf
Director, Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern & MEPI Affairs
Assyrian Aid Society
Turlock , California
Saturday, February 4, 2006
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It is a pleasure to join you for your annual Board of Directors dinner at the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock. I want to thank you for inviting me to speak before the distinguished members of the Assyrian Aid Society and your friends and supporters.
The Assyrian Aid Society has been a great American organization working in the for-front in rebuilding Iraq . Your work has been outstanding from funding building programs, irrigation and electrification projects to education programs at every level; as well as medical projects, which include shipments of medicines and supplies to maintenance of free medical clinics. Since 1991 you've grown and were able to have an international reach into Australia , Canada , Germany , and the United Kingdom .
I commend your humanitarian work and tell you that you are the perfect example of Americans with a helping hand. You have realized with the change that is taking place in the Middle East and in particular in your ancestral country of Iraq that you have a role to play and here you are galvanizing your communities around the world to participate in this awesome responsibility of rebuilding your societies back home and Iraq as a whole.
Through your experience in the Assyrian Aid Society you have realized how unique and generous the United States of America and the American people are when it comes to extending a helping hand. From the Marshal Plan to the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and the American people have been looking beyond the oceans to help others regain themselves and their dignity. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development, we provide economic development and humanitarian assistance to people around the world. By creating the conditions to help countries move from poverty to prosperity, we serve both the American public and millions of people living in countries in development and transition. The total budget of USAID has grown in the last five years from $8 billion to $ 14 billion. You can clearly see the commitment of our Administration toward a better way of life for all human beings around the world.
Our work in Iraq is the largest reconstruction effort since the Marshall Plan and we are implementing a $5.1 billion program of assistance to Iraq across every sector from essential infrastructure and economic reform to healthcare and education. We are also working closely with our Iraqi colleagues to coordinate our efforts to meet the needs and priorities of Iraqis and joined by our partners in the international community like Japan , the United Kingdom , the World Bank, and the United Nations.
Our program in Iraq focuses on two key initiatives: one, supporting stabilization and security of the Iraqi people and two, assisting Iraqis in building capacity on the national and local levels. Despite all the challenges we have faced we have succeeded in achieving three major accomplishments: First, in the area of democracy and governance in which USAID partners provided support to the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure a free and transparent election. Today Iraq has a newly elected parliament and they are working to form a new government to represent all the Iraqis. Second, in the areas of education where 3000 schools have been repaired, 55000 teachers have been trained, and approximately 8.7 million textbooks have been distributed in the country. Third, in the area of infrastructure from rehabilitation of the electrical sector to building bridges and the telecommunication sector.
Ladies and gentlemen President Bush and his administration are committed to victory in Iraq when he said last December at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington :" We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy in Iraq . Our goal is victory-and victory will be achieved when terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq 's democracy. We will complete our mission in Iraq and leave behind a democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself."
We are working with all the ethnic groups in Iraq and we want them to unite in this effort of rebuilding not only the infrastructure but also its religious diversity, societies and cultures. We support many projects in the Ninawa Governorate and we have accomplished three major infrastructure projects: one, Extended potable water and treatment service to 2 million residents through the supply of pumps, pipeline and rolling stock equipment to the Mosul Water Treatment Plant production which was enhanced and the distribution of potable water, and the treatment and collection of sewerage. Two, Four primary health clinic rehabilitation projects were completed and Three, 46 schools rehabilitation projects were completed.
We are also working closely with local officials of the Ninawa on several specific projects including democracy and governance, Constitution support, Community Action Program, Civil Society Program, Health, Education, Economic Growth, Private Sector and Business Developments, Agriculture and transition Initiatives. So many accomplishments in the Ninawa governorate.
My office has been working closely with several ChaldoAssyrian American organizations in Michigan , San Diego , Chicago and tonight here with you in finding ways to engage your communities throughout the United States in participating and partnering with USAID in your efforts to rebuild your ancestral homeland. We are also sending the leadership of the Iraqi American community up-dates on a weekly basis of the developments that are taking place as well as to the Middle Eastern media in your local communities and in the nations' capital.
You are always welcome to my office and to the U.S. Agency for International development. Our commitment to Iraq is firm as President Bush puts it:" We will help the Iraqi people so they can build a free society in the heart of a troubled region. And by laying the foundations of freedom in Iraq and across the broader Middle East we will lay the foundation of peace for generations to come."
Thank you for listening to my remarks and May God keep the United States the protector of freedom, liberty and self-governance in this world.