OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ US Representative Tom Cole says that democracy is gaining a foothold in Iraq but government leaders there must still learn to work within a democratic system.
The congressman from Moore, a day after returning from a five-day visit to the Middle East, also says sectarian violence that has taken the lives of hundreds of Iraqi civilians must be brought under control.
Cole said Thursday that US efforts to create a democratic government in Baghdad are finally paying off -- three years after a US-led invasion toppled the government of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Cole also cites progress in creating effective Iraqi military and police units to patrol the nation and fight a growing insurgency.
But he says Shiite-Sunni violence threatens to unravel the nation's fragile government.
In Washington, two of the Pentagon's most senior generals told Congress Thursday the surge in sectarian violence means Iraq may descend into civil war.