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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Death of Hussein's Sons Could Be Turning Point

After a long, hot season of seemingly relentless stories about guerrilla warfare, sabotage and mounting American casualties, U.S. commanders in Iraq finally had some good news to announce on Tuesday -- and it was very good news indeed.

The confirmation that Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, had been killed by U.S. troops meant a serious blow to the die-hard resistance that has plagued the postwar administration and a huge boost for the majority of Iraqis, who hated and feared the old dictatorship.

Most Iraqis support the U.S. forces in their country because they want Hussein and the remains of his regime to be eliminated; many also have hesitated to cooperate with the U.S.-led administration because they worry that the dictator will stage a comeback. With the death of men who organized and directed Hussein's death squads and were his chosen political successors, there is considerably less to worry about.

An opportunity exists for the United States to make this a turning point for the postwar administration. As it happened, the successful operation coincided with the first appearance of the new Iraqi Governing Council before the UN Security Council. The occupation authority under L. Paul Bremer showed flexibility in agreeing to grant the Iraqi council more powers than originally intended. The Pentagon has also embraced one of the Iraqis' ideas in forming militia units that can take over some of the patrol and guard duty. This process of replacing American with Iraqi faces and modifying U.S. plans to accommodate Iraqi initiatives should be accelerated. And Bremer ought to be clearer in communicating with Iraqis about when and how they will get a full-fledged representative government.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces must pursue the Iraqi resistance aggressively: Despite Tuesday's breakthrough, the recent predictions by U.S. commanders that the guerrilla war would continue and even worsen may well hold. But Bush should also aggressively seek stronger international support, including that of traditional U.S. allies who did not support the war.

Many countries are holding back potential contributions of troops, civilian advisers and financial resources because they object to the administration's insistence on monopolizing authority over the postwar administration, command of peacekeeping forces and even the distribution of reconstruction contracts. Just as Bremer has accommodated the desire of Iraqis to play a larger role in the evolving postwar government, the White House should create room in Iraq for all who can help. The time for making the postwar administration work is running short. Tuesday's success ought to be the cue for broadening and accelerating the effort.

This comment appeared as an editorial in The Washington Post.