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Allawi Says Rebels Growing Desperate

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 19, 2004; Page A32

On the eve of his first visit to the United States, Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, denied yesterday that the insurgency battling U.S.-led troops and Iraqi forces was gaining momentum or spreading, despite the escalating violence and death toll.

"It's not getting stronger; it's getting more desperate. We are squeezing out the insurgency," he said in an interview to be aired today on ABC's "This Week." Allawi called the attacks, which now number in the dozens each day, the insurgents' "last stand, so they are putting a very severe fight on Iraq. We are winning." The prime minister cited recent progress in reducing the violence in several cities.

Iraq's Allawi to visit U.N. and Washington.

Allawi refuted a National Intelligence Council estimate portraying the possibility of civil war, noting that the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish populations were not targeting one another and that members of all three groups were working in the three-month-old interim government. The fighting is ideological, not based on ethnic or religious differences, he said.

But Allawi said that Iraq needed more international participation to confront what he described as a global war. "Iraq is fighting this war on behalf of the civilized nations. It's not something unique to Iraq," he told ABC. "If this is not happening in Iraq, New York will be hit, Washington will be hit, London will be hit, Paris will be hit. We need the help of the international community. It's a fight for everyone."

Allawi, who is scheduled to visit Washington and the United Nations this week, insisted that the violence would not delay Iraq's first democratic election, due by the end of January. But he called on the United Nations to send additional staff to help prepare for the election and chided the world body for what he said was an effort to put up obstacles and make decisions on behalf of the interim Iraqi government. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan recently predicted that the election could not be held in January if unrest persisted at current levels.

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