WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2008 – Coalition troops and Iraqi security forces marked the one-year anniversary of Operation Fardh al-Qanoon over the weekend in an environment of reduced violence and forward momentum on both the political and economic fronts, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman told Baghdad reporters.

During a Feb. 17 news conference, Navy Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith noted solid progress since Fardh al-Qanoon kicked off in early 2007 to improve security protections and services for the Iraqi people while offering them hope for the future. As part of the operation, coalition forces surged five reinforcing combat brigades into the Baghdad area as Iraqi security forces conducted a surge of their own.

Since Fardh al-Qanoon began, terrorist attacks are down more than 60 percent, from an average of 205 a day to 82 attacks a day in January. “And recently, we have experienced some days where the total number of attacks across the country dropped below 40, the lowest levels seen since 2004,” Smith said.

In Baghdad, the improvement has been particularly impressive, he said. In February 2007, the city’s residents were experiencing 28 terrorist attacks a day, a number that peaked at 46 in June. Last month, attacks were down to 11 a day, a drop by 60 percent over the year and 76 percent from peak levels, Smith reported.

In addition, coalition and Iraqi forces are uncovering more weapons caches and making more headway in disrupting terrorist operations, he said.

Smith was quick to note that terrorists have not given up their violent attacks, but emphasized that as violence subsides, other progress is able to take place. “The improving security situation is helping to create an environment for progress,” he said.

Smith pointed to last week’s passage of three important laws by the Iraqi parliament as a sign of that progress on the political front. The three laws — an amnesty law, a provincial powers law and the Iraqi calendar year 2008 budget — will serve as landmark legislation in laying groundwork for continued progress, he said.

On the economic front, the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce, supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hosted the Baghdad business expo and conference last week, Smith noted. Exhibitors from Iraq’s banks, hotels, trade unions, business associations and state-owned enterprises came together to showcase their offerings, drawing more than 8,000 participants.

“The event was organized by Iraqis for Iraqis and was designed to promote commerce and cooperation across the country,” Smith said. “It made for quite a scene, one which we hope will be repeated many times across Iraq in the months ahead.

“The economic development, spurred on by improved security, is beginning to open doors to a brighter future,” he continued, “and the coalition is proud to be a partner.”

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