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Foreign Media Reaction

May 3, 2005

NEW IRAQ GOVERNMENT: 'A TURBULENT BEGINNING'

>KEY FINDINGS

>  

>** Global dailies say Iraqi leaders must "get to work fast."

>** Optimists see "concrete hope" for Iraq and its new government.

>** Critics cite ethnic differences, terrorism, and incomplete cabinet as causes for concern.

MAJOR THEMES

Iraq's government must 'take action'-- Euro papers asserted "too much time" has been wasted in forming a new government, noting it took three months for "the exemplary courage of the Iraqis who voted" to "bear fruit." Iraq's independent Al-Mashriq criticized the country's "short-sighted politicians," observing that "very few examples of intelligent and proficient leaders" can be found in Iraq. Mideast dailies declared Iraqi reconstruction is proceeding in "the shadow of terror," and that the militants are "as strong as ever." Iraqi papers counseled Ja'fari to combat militant groups because "these enemies do not want to see democracy succeed in Iraq." Like-minded outlets observed that as "Iraqi security forces are taking over from the coalition," civilians continue to "pay a heavy price." Germany's centrist Der Tagesspiegel urged the Iraqi government to "restore confidence," and another Euro outlet said until the Iraqi government can secure the country, "occupation powers must remain active."

'No reason for pessimism'-- Positive outlets said the new government offers hope for Iraq, adding that "after all the years of dictatorship, Iraqi democracy is still in a testing and learning phase." An Austrian paper praised Ja'fari as "a legitimate prime minister" and the Saudi pro-government Arab News claimed the new cabinet was a "cornerstone" for Iraqi democracy. Hopeful EU papers dismissed criticisms about the difficulty of forming Iraq's new government, insisting, "the political debate among the three principal ethnicities" represented an "unprecedented experiment in freedom." Spain's leftist El País stated if the Shiites can achieve an Iraqi government which includes Sunnis and Kurds, it would "revolutionize Iraq and the Arab world." A Russian paper hailed the new government and said the "Americans did it."

New government is 'compromised'-- Skeptical EU writers bemoaned the inability of Iraq's government to control the security situation and fill cabinet posts. They also agreed the new government is "lame and dangerously incomplete" because it "almost completely excludes" the Sunni minority. Austria's centrist Die Presse warned "the radicals are trying to fuel a religious war between the Sunnis and the Shiites" and that Iraq could become "a fragmented state." Many Middle Eastern papers traced Iraq's problems back to the United States. The West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam claimed no oil or defense minister had been named because America was "maintaining control over both ministries" so it can claim Iraq hasn't "met the 'security and political conditions'" needed to "end its military presence." An Egyptian paper urged Iraq's new government to "revoke all the actions" that were taken by Paul Bremer and the CPA, while Saudi Arabia's moderate Al-Madina said the new Iraqi government will be illegitimate until it has "total sovereignty" over the country. Syria's official Al-Ba'th contended American "occupation" is the reason why "the Iraqi people have been suffering."

Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, rmrmail@state.gov

>EDITOR: David Meyers

>EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 37 reports from 19 political entities over 28 April - 3 May, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.

MIDDLE EAST

>IRAQ: Al-Ja'fari And Those Who Oppose The Government"

Ibrahim Zedan wrote in independent Ad-Dustour (5/2): "There are many internal and foreign actors that are responsible for the recent aggravation of violence in Iraq.... Rather than receiving bouquets of flowers, congratulatory remarks, and wishes of success during this difficult upcoming stage, this government was greeted with bombs and dead bodies. Amid the ongoing problems of local and international terrorism, this government must be able to create miracles in just seven months. The terrorists continue to kill and behead innocent Iraqis, particularly the majority that reached power through the ballot box. It is clear that these enemies do not want to see democracy succeed in Iraq and it seems that they have lost their balance.... It appears as though the Jihadists have discovered that beheading Iraqis is the quickest way for them to ascend to heaven, according to their own dark beliefs. The Iraqi groups that prevented people from participating in the democratic process and transformed their cities into hiding places for terrorists believe that a military coup d'etat is the best way to obtain power. However, once the reality in Iraq began to change, they began to claim that they could not participate in the elections because of the difficult security situation. Today, these groups are asking the winning parties to consider their situation or else the democratic process will lack legitimacy, or so they claim. Other groups in Iraq do not believe in sharing power because they have only experienced authoritarianism and, under such a system, everyone else must give in to their conditions.... There are some groups that lost the positions they held under the former regime and are now fighting the occupation in the name of patriotism. However, we must point out that they are beheading innocent Iraqis. Al-Ja'fari must oppose all of these groups in a wise and patient manner. But he must also be strict and justly punish those who allow the shedding of Iraqi blood, regardless of the slogans that are being employed by such groups."

>"Yes To Experience And Efficiency, No To Favoritism And Factionalism"

Hamid Abdullah remarked in independent Al-Mashriq (5/2): "If the future of Iraq depends on loyalty, favoritism, and factionalism instead of on efficiency, experience, and knowledge, the country will continue to move backwards. The Iraqi people are being led by short-sighted politicians. These politicians cannot see further ahead than their own noses. It was very sad to see how the former Iraqi governments completely disregarded proficiency and experience in selecting leaders. We have many examples in Iraq of poor and inexperienced leadership. However, on the other hand, we have very few examples of intelligent and proficient leaders. This fact represents another one of Iraq's countless disasters. Officials must have merits and experience that make them deserve their positions. They must provide a good example in manners, tact, integrity, and the strictness they impose on other employees. Honest officials step down before they are asked to resign. We want to stop holding disdain for those that hold government positions. We must not be silent towards the problems in our country. We must stop being cowardly when we see an unskilled worker become the minister of industry or a non-commissioned officer become the minister of defense--as what happened under the former regime. Anyone who now claims that we are free of favoritism in distributing government posts must be deceiving him or herself. You must examine the efficiency of the Iraqi officials in the new Iraq and make a comparison between their skills and positions. After you do accomplish this, you can then make your judgment. The government must give us information about the new ministers. These ministers have either been appointed, elected, given their position due to ethic power sharing arrangements, or brought in at the request of friendly foreign groups. The Iraqi people have the right to know who is leading their country. If the officials have a clean record, why do not they just tell us this so that we can rest assured knowing that our country is in the hands of skilled officials?"

>WEST BANK: "Democracy Of The Ego"

Jawad Bashiti opined in independent Al-Ayyam (5/1): “Behind the scenes of the conflict between Iraqi parties over who takes control of the Interior and Defense ministries, we see the U.S. is determined to remain in effective control of both portfolios.... Some of this concern for maintaining control over both ministries lies in the fact that doing so allows [the U.S.] to claim that Iraq has not yet met the ‘security and political conditions’ to end its military presence there. This is the ‘imperialistic side’ of the ‘democratic game’ that we see. The other (internal Iraqi) side, however, is telling you every day about this ‘great democratic identity’ that President Bush is proud to have established in the heart of the Arab world. The ‘Shiites ego’ has begun to generate the ‘Sunni’s ego,’ as if one denomination's interest in hegemony over the forthcoming government have awakened another denomination's countervailing interests. I guess the Najaf’s governor gave the best explanation of the ‘great democratic achievement’ in Iraq when he said to the Arab Sunnis, ‘We hold you responsible for the attacks against the Shiites, who might have to retaliate.’”

>EGYPT: "The Incomplete Government"

Ahmad al-Sheikk commented in pro-government, aggressive Al-Akhbar (5/1): "After strenuous efforts, an incomplete Iraqi government was set up, amid hopes that the coming days will not show that it was stillborn. The Iraqi government is without ministers of defense, oil, electricity, industry, and human rights. This is the best evidence that Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari failed in the first test. He did not succeed in healing the rift between the country's various sects. The composition of this government shows that disagreements continue to exist between the Sunnis and Shiites, while it was hoped that the formation of the government would mark an end to these disagreements. It is most likely that Al-Ja'fari had to announce the formation of the government before it was complete, as a face-saving measure. He emerged everyday saying that negotiations were continuing, but it transpired that he was engaged in futile efforts. Three months after the elections, the architects of the new Iraq are still in an unenviable position. George Bush has come under criticisms, while Tony Blair is concerned that the Iraqi crisis may have a negative effect on the elections in which he will run in a few days' time even though he is in the lead. Perhaps Al-Ja'fari sought to place the Sunnis before a de facto situation and force them to accept their share in the sectarian government. Nevertheless, the important thing is the new government's role in the future. What is more important is for this government to attempt to avoid the shortcomings of both the [former] governing council and government of Iyad Allawi. The former governing council and Allawi government competed to show allegiance to Washington at the expense of the Iraqis' interests. If the current government wants to survive, it must revoke all the actions that were taken by U.S. governor of Iraq Paul Bremer. It must reinstate the Iraqi army and other institutions, liberate the Iraqi economy from foreign gangs, and draw up a plan for the withdrawal of the occupation forces."

>SAUDI ARABIA: "The Iraqi Government: Obstacles And Tasks"

Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (5/2): The terrorist operations will not stop upon formation of the new government or electing a national committee, as the reasons for the decision taken by the resistance against American occupation still exist.... The resistance is not the only party who wants the government to fail. The friends of previous Iraqi regime and enemies of today are seeking to put obstacles before the new government.... The government should pay attention to the full spectrum of Iraqis in order not to give the justification to any terrorist groups to speak in the name of any Iraqi party.

>"Iraqi People's Priorities"

Jeddah’s moderate Okaz editorialized (5/1): "The Iraqi government has priorities to be placed before its other concerns.... The government should realize that Iraq's unity should be the ultimate objective.... It should also realize that Iraq's independence and the sovereignty of its people are the greatest ambitions of the Iraqi people."

>"Required Correction"

Jeddah’s moderate Al-Madina remarked (5/1): "The announcement of a new Iraqi government cannot be considered a real achievement unless it is accompanied by Iraq's total sovereignty on the land and in a form that returns consideration to the Sunnis, who were given the fewest portfolios, particularly as they are allocated only seven.... The remarkable increase in terrorist operations recently is causing worry and a fear of an increase in disturbances and security deterioration may reflect negatively on the whole area."

>"Another Cornerstone"

The pro-government, English-language Arab News commented (4/29): "The Iraqi Parliament's approval, by an overwhelming majority, of Prime Minister Ibrahim Ja'fari's Cabinet sets in concrete another cornerstone in the construction of the new Iraq.... For the first time in half-a-century, Iraq not only has a democratically elected government; it has one that represents the overwhelming majority of Iraqis.... We wish it well and hope that it will achieve peace and prosperity for the Iraqi people. That will not be easy. It has been a difficult gestation, reflected in the fact that not all the positions have been filled.... It would, however, be wrong to play up the difficulties, which Ja'fari himself admits, of forming a balanced government. After so many years of dictatorship and oppression, and in a country as diverse as Iraq, it was always going to be difficult to find complete consensus.... But a large degree of consensus across the political spectrum has now been achieved. Peace and prosperity will, however, have to be worked on. The assassination of MP Lamia Abed Khadouri and the admission by Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, that the militants are as strong as ever, are evidence of how dangerous the situation remains. But that is no reason for pessimism. The new Iraq may be under attack but there is a determination at all levels to keep the country united and make it work."

>LEBANON: "Stability Depends On Earliest Stages"

The English-language, moderate Daily Star opined (4/30): "The country's future stability will depend heavily on the steps that are taken in these earliest stages. Ensuring an independent judiciary now would be an enormous contribution toward guaranteeing the success of any future Iraqi government. The United States and President George W. Bush should also atone for the mistakes made under the leadership of U.S. administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer by investing $2 billion immediately in financing an independent judiciary in Iraq. That way, by the end of the year, the web of the Constitution, whether it is created on Lebanese lines or Iraqi lines, will have a strong and reliable axle that can carry the country on all kinds of political side roads and off roads. What Iraq needs most is a well financed, well supported judiciary and America and the current transitional government would do well to help create one now.

>SYRIA: "Istanbul Meeting, New Support For Iraq"

Shawkat Abu-Fakhr wrote in government-owned Al-Ba'th (5/1): "Iraq's neighbors, who are holding a meeting in Istanbul, find another chance today to reaffirm their support for the political process in Iraq and their readiness to offer all forms of assistance to the Iraqi government to help it control things and start a new chapter in Iraq. The Iraqi government certainly needs this support, especially as the wave of violence continues. Occupation should end because it is the main and first reason for the situation from which the Iraqi people have been suffering; namely, the lack of security, the spread of unemployment, and the destruction of the national economy. The Iraqi government should benefit from this supportive Arab and regional climate to lead Iraq to a new stage ensuring the participation of all Iraqi groups in the formulation of Iraq's future, the establishment of a democratic political life, and the creation of the best relations with the neighboring countries, which have always worked so that the Iraqis can build a stable, safe, and prosperous Iraq."

EUROPE

BRITAIN: "A Turbulent Beginning"

An editorial in the far-left Guardian said (4/30): "Mr. Jaafari and his colleagues face a truly mammoth task: delivering security, ending corruption, creating jobs and restoring basic services such as electricity. They need and deserve the help of the outside world, especially the US, Britain and other governments that took the lead in toppling Saddam. But they also bear a heavy responsibility. No reader of this newspaper needs reminding that the events and motives that led to war are under close scrutiny. But that should not divert anyone from the need to watch carefully so that Iraq's future turns out better than its rightly lamented past.”

>"Iraq's Shias Should Now Seek To Be More Inclusive"

An editorial in the conservative Times (4/30) stated: "The new cabinet has, at last, broken the stalemate. The real test will come in appointing top police, administrators and army officers. If Iraq is to overcome terrorism and factional strife, it is vital that Sunnis are better represented and that Shia dominance does not become a religious monopoly. Only then will Iraq fulfill its huge potential."

"Listen To The Elected Iraqi Government, Not The Verdict Of The Attorney General"

A commentary by columnist Johann Hari in the left-of-center Independent read (4/29): "But like all sane people, Iraqis did not think the American and British governments had altruistic motives for invading. They thought the WMD rationale was an absurd lie, with only 6 per cent of Iraqis describing it as the motive for invasion. Some 46 per cent thought (probably correctly) it was to get access to Iraq's oil and 41 per cent thought it was to help Israel -- but they still supported it, because Saddam was the alternative."

FRANCE: "Iraq's Slowness"

Pierre Rousselin opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (4/29): “It took three months for the exemplary courage of the Iraqis who voted in January to bear fruit.... And the government is only a transition government...because bringing together the three factions on five portfolios has proven to be impossible.... If the Americans had not banged on the table it is fair to say that the discussions would still be going on. But the truth is that the task of folding in the Sunni minority was not been an easy one. The result is not great. The fact that the defense and oil ministers could not be named proves that the most difficult is still ahead. Meanwhile, Ahmed Chalabi, the Pentagon's man, is making a noticeable and strong comeback.... But the legislative agenda could be compromised, and this is unfortunate because during this delay the insurrection continues without weakening. On the contrary it is enhanced by the institutional vacuum.... If there are fewer American victims, it is because Iraqi security forces are taking over from the coalition.... Civilians continue to pay a heavy price in the daily violence.... To extricate the country from chaos, the government must get to work fast. Too much time has already been wasted in Iraq.”

>GERMANY: "In Babylonian Imprisonment"

Heiko Flottau commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (5/3): "The strategy is simple and brutally effective. Insurgents accompany every move toward establishing political normality and democracy in Iraq with a spate of terror attacks in order to turn America's military victory into a political defeat. The U.S. has now realized the seriousness of the situation. Joint Chief of Staff Richard Myers said the number of attacks is around 400 per week, and that one has not been able to improve the security situation since the end of the war two years ago. Even this relatively honest statement is a euphemism. The security and well being of Iraqis has drastically deteriorated since then.... There is no exit from this dilemma in sight. No one can reliably say for how long the political progress in Baghdad will endure. The sad truth that the formation of the government took three months has disillusioned many people. President Talabani's proposal to use the Kurdish Peshmerga militia and the Shiite Badr brigades against the Sunni terrorists is a concession that the new Iraqi army still has a long way to go to become a powerful force. That many see this as a way toward civil war makes it even worse. Such a fight would be the end of the new Iraq the U.S. desired."

>"Wrong Political Pipeline"

Karl Grobe asserted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (5/3): "There are still vacancies at the oil and gas ministry. Its provisional head is Ahmed Chalabi, who is known for constantly changing his mind. Within a few years, he managed to become the darling of Washington's hawks, he was suspected of high treason, and was an adviser of many different groups. No one puts any trust in him and he has the reputation of being highly corrupt. However, the man has his connections, and those to U.S. firms are close. He had time to promote his people, which is not good for Iraq."

>"High School Degree"

Clemens Wergin concluded in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (4/29): "It was to be expected that, after the moving elections in January, a less noble power bickering was to follow. The reason for this was that the victorious Shiites were always aware of the fact that they could not form a one-party government, for only an all-party coalition can prevent the country from falling into a civil war. It is obvious that such a complicated power arithmetic cannot be resolved overnight. This is all the more so, since the Iraqis had little opportunities in their history to learn the rules of the game for a balancing of interests. It is rather a sign of wisdom that there are still a few vacant portfolios in the government. For those in the Sunni camp, who still think they have chances to join the government, do not want to fall out of favor with al-Ja'fari Right now it is important for the government to take action and to restore confidence that it has forfeited since the elections, for the security, economic and energy problems are enormous. And in addition, the government must also submit a draft constitution to parliament by August 15. There is enough to do. It is time to tackle these problems now."

>"To Have A Future"

Center-right Wiesbadener Kurier noted (4/29): "Iraq belongs in Iraqi hands; occupation creates frictional losses and deep scratches in the national self-confidence.... That is why [the formation of a new government] should not fail because the five Sunni ministers have not yet been appointed. The formation of the government--thanks to Washington's help--did not fail because of the Kurdistan problem, which still could be a fuse for the stability of the young democracy. The motto is to reconcile instead of to divide. The formation of the Iraqi government was by no means a masterpiece. But it was the necessary precondition for the country having a future."

"Government Of Hope"

Heiko Flottau penned this editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (4/28): "Three months after the parliamentary elections, Iraq has a new government.... In a society like the Iraqi one with its many ethnic and religious groups, the political bickering is made even more difficult because of problems caused by a proportional representation. They all want to be represented…and what we have heard so far about the new government, makes us optimistic.... The composition of the new government allows us to hope that Iraq, at least for the time being, remains stable and will not disintegrate. But it remains unclear, especially when looking at ex-premier Allawi's case, whether Iraq will stay the course in the long run or whether, for instance after a U.S. withdrawal, radical forces will seize power."

"Trench Warfare"

Markus Ziener judged in business-oriented Handelsblatt (4/28): "The long waiting period before the Iraqi government was formed does not bode well.... The dilemma is no so much that three months have passed since the parliamentary elections…but the basic problem is that the new Iraqi political class has embarked so quickly on a trench warfare, for this warfare has determined the events surrounding the bickering about the 32 Cabinet posts.... Ex-premier Allawi and Iraq's enfant terrible, Ahmad Chalabi, also represent a different development, which has begun much too early: declining U.S influence. In both cases Washington wanted the exact opposite: Allawi should remain premier and Chalabi should permanently disappear from the political stage.

"Even though this new independence demonstrates a necessary decoupling from the occupation power, Iraq is still unable to do the government business on its own.... The only thing that can help is the ability to act. If the Iraqis are unable to exercise it on their own, the occupation powers must remain active. But this is not in the U.S. and its allies' sense, since they want to see an end of their engagement in Iraq.... At the latest the constitutional question will give us more information about the stability of the Iraqi government. It will depend on its proposals whether the constitutional commission will be a balanced one, and how it deals with precarious topics. Iraq cannot afford a new pending process that could last for months. Otherwise the positive impulse from the parliamentary elections in January would have totally faded."

>ITALY: "Iraq, New Government Approved"

Lorenzo Cremonesi observed in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (4/29): “A lame government is born in Baghdad--lame and dangerously incomplete. It satisfies the expectations of the Shiites, and to some extent those of the Kurds, but it almost completely excludes the tough Sunni minority.... Only seven positions remain to be filled, but they are important ministries for the stability of the coming term, forcing Ja'fari to take steps that were neither appreciated by the Iraqi people nor by the international community. The first of which was the designation of the Shiite Ahmed Chalabi as...interim minister for oil.... But we mustn't forget the positive aspects. In Baghdad, many are emphasizing that the political debate among the country's three principal ethnicities represents an unprecedented experiment in freedom.”

>"Iraq, Lame Government Is Born"

Leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore commented (4/29): “The ‘new Iraq’ finally has a new government.... Despite the fact that Shiite Prime Minister Ibrahim al Ja'fari worked ‘night and day’ for over three weeks, the long negotiations yielded a lame Cabinet. Five important ministries out of 32, among which are oil and defense, will only be filled ad interim--an elegant formula to hide the fact that, three months following the elections, the different ethnic groups have not reached an agreement."

>"Government Formed, Italians Attacked in Nassiriya"

Toni Fontana wrote in pro-democratic Left Party (DS) daily L’Unità (4/29): “As of yesterday, Iraq has a government, the first in the post-Saddam era to be elected by the people, or rather, by two-thirds of the Iraqis.... The positive aspects, however, end here, and enormous, perhaps irresolvable, problems are lurking behind the headlines reporting yesterday's events.”

“The Iraqi Government And the Tactic Of Minimizing”

Guido Rampoldi asserted in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (4/28): “Three months to form a government is not an encouraging sign, but now we have a government and the political process can finally gain a little momentum and help save Iraq from an abyss. This is not a good reason, however, to become too optimistic.... The most positive prospect is not so much the agreement between Shiites and Kurds, rather the fact that the Premier was successful in embarking in the government a party of former Baathist officials, largely Sunnis, the National Front, which until yesterday was close to the guerrillas. According to the indiscretions of Western diplomats, it might be possible to include other Sunni extremist forces in the commission that will draft the Constitution. This way, Iraqi politics would progressively be able to absorb a large part of a guerrilla that for some time now unfavorably views the massacres of Iraqi civilians by Arab terrorists who flocked into the country. Although this finally looks like a concrete hope, possibilities of failure are not few.”

>RUSSIA: "Americans Did It"

Yevgeniy Shestakov remarked in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (4/29): “There would still be no government had it not been for the Americans making it clear to intractable MPs that they could not go on bargaining any longer.”

"General Myers Doesn't Share President Bush's Optimism"

Artur Blinov wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (4/28): “The Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Myers, speaking at a briefing in the Pentagon the other day, sounded rather pessimistic when he said that the enemy's capability was about as high as a year ago. That conflicts with the optimistic assessments President George Bush gave in Texas last week…. Problems in forming a government may ruin the plans to have a new constitution drafted by August and adopted by a referendum in October.”

>AUSTRIA: "Labor Pains"

Senior columnist Ernst Trost remarked in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (4/29): "In Ja'fari, Iraq finally has a legitimate prime minister. However, the parliamentarians had to vote on a cabinet list which does not include some of the major portfolios.... After all the years of dictatorship, Iraqi democracy is still in a testing and learning phase. Apparently there was considerable haggling over the 30 ministerial posts--reminiscent of a bazaar--in order to preserve at least the fictive concept of 'national unity' of the Shiite majority with the Kurds and Sunnis. There was not even room in the cabinet for provisional Prime Minister Allawi and his non-religious Shiite party. All this is happening in the shadow of terror. Shortly before the presentation of a government, there was the first murder of a member of parliament--a prominent female parliamentarian."

>"Iraq On Its Way To Fragmentation"

Foreign affairs editor Christian Ultsch observed in centrist Die Presse (4/29): "Hopes were high with regard to a normalization in Iraq following the march to the polls in January of eight million courageous Iraqi citizens who defied the terror threat. However, euphoria quickly passed. The newly elected parliamentarians contributed to disillusionment by failing to form a government for several months. The incomplete cabinet list, which the new Prime Minister Ja'fari has now presented, will not change this. The question is how Shiites and Kurds are supposed to agree on a constitution with the sulking Sunnis until 15 August if it is not even possible to form a transition government that has a minister of defense. If this trend continues, Iraq will soon be a fragmented state as Lebanon once was. The radicals are already trying to fuel a religious war between Sunnis and Shiites."

>BELGIUM: "New Government Compromised"

Foreign editor Jean Vanempten commented in independent financial De Tijd (4/29): “As of now, the new government is heavily compromised. Credibility is what the Iraqi democracy really needs. The nation is on the brink of civil war and a credible government might prevent that. That is also the hope of the U.S. government…. It is very much the question whether the White House is pleased with the result. The internal division in Iraq is reflected in this government so that the chaos of civil war is appallingly near now. That is bad news of all the parties. It is bad news for the Iraqis because they have suffered under unbridled violence for more than two years--either from the invading troops or from all kinds of rebels. It is also bad news for the United States. A weak government cannot maintain its grip on the country and will force the United States to maintain a long and strong military presence in the country. Even Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed the hope earlier this weak that the government would stabilize the situation in Iraq. He should put that hope away for some time and keep his armed forces in the field. That is not good news for the soldiers in Iraq who see that more and more allies are leaving the country. The average Iraqis have been hoping for a long time that the foreign troops would leave the country.”

>"Historic Chance"

Foreign affairs writer Maarten Rabaey wrote in independent De Morgen (4/29): “Al-Ja'fari’s government of national unity may be able to lead Iraq to a peaceful future and it deserves the full support of the international community. But, it will have to prove that it can act sovereignly--and that it does not operate under direct American command…. Only by openly playing the UN card and integrating itself into the international legal order can the new Iraqi government create conditions for negotiations with the anti-American resistance. Whether it is today, tomorrow or two years from now, negotiations are the only means to stop the bloodshed.”

>DENMARK: "Democracy Building"

Centrist Weekendavisen stated (4/29): "Democracy in Iraq, just like any other place, has to be real and not just a principle. It can only be a whole democracy if people genuinely feel that they can say whatever they want to without fear. Democracy cannot function without the rule of law, therefore, it is crucial that we support the establishment of an uncorrupted police force and legal system. But, in the final analysis, it must be the responsibility of the fledgling Iraqi government (to build a secure future for its people)."

>SPAIN: "Iraq Has A Government"

Left-of-center El País editorialized (4/29): "If a representative power in Iraq is a historical sign for the U.S. and for the West in general, the fact that an Arab country is going to be led by Shiites, a minority sect of Islam, is even more important for Middle East.... The future months are putting the theoretical condition of the government's national unity to the test, without which the governing of Iraq would be impossible.... The Shiites must design a country in which there is space for everybody. This makes necessary the participation of the former dominant Sunnis in the government. If they achieve this, they would revolutionize Iraq and the Arab world at the same time."

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

>INDONESIA: “New Regime, Resistance, And Iraq’s Peace Prospect”

Muslim intellectual daily Republika (5/3) commented: “Almost three months after a controversial election, Iraq has successfully established a new government.... The new government reflects the results of the January 30th election, in which Shii’tes and Kurds were the dominant players.... The new government tries to accommodate Sunni aspirations, the second largest community in Iraq, who in general boycotted the election. Ghazi Al Yawar, a Sunni, was appointed one of the vice presidents. Hajim Al Hassani, also a Sunni, become head of Parliament.... Quite contrary to mainstream media expectations, the formation of the new government likely won’t affect the eternal peace in this natural-resource rich country. If the new regime does not act quickly to raise various issues that have had a detrimental impact on the Iraqi people, then armed resistance to the U.S. and its coalition occupiers will not decrease, and

 may increase… In other words, a comprehensive peace in Iraq still depends on the U.S.’ readiness to pull out its troops, give full sovereignty to the elected government and transfer the mandate of temporary supervision to international forces under the UN until the time the country is self-reliant in restructuring its military and other security apparatus. ”       

>MALAYSIA: "Iraqi Insurgents Not Afraid Of American Soldiers"

Government-influenced, Malay-language Berita Harian had this to say (4/29): "In the last two weeks, the U.S. has made two confessions about their presence in Iraq. The first is that their weapons inspectors have failed to find any evidence of WMD in the country and that the insurgents are not letting up on their attacks. The failure to find the WMD shows that the U.S. and President George W. Bush have been lying and putting the world in danger. He has challenged the sovereignty of other countries and defied the UN to occupy Iraq with the excuse that the country had and could build WMD. After 25 months after toppling Saddam, the U.S. has lost 1,500 soldiers and 12,000 more injured. Just like in the Indochina war, from 1965-1975, the U.S. does not want to admit its mistakes, it failures and its cruel oppression of the Iraqi people. This does not include the destruction of the Iraqi economy and the takeover of its oil supply, the largest in the world following the Saudis. It is clear that the presence of the 138,000 U.S. soldiers is a waste of time because their 'strength' is not at all a deterrent to the attacks by insurgents."

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

>PAKISTAN: "Towards A New Iraq?"

The center-right national English-language Nation editorialized (4/30): "At last after weeks of deadlock caused by behind-the-scene wrangling among Iraq's four religious and ethnic communities, Shiia Sunni, Kurd and Christian, a cabinet is in place at Baghdad.... However, bringing the Sunnis on board is extremely important for Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari if the nationalist forces, which are mainly Sunni, are to be successfully dissuaded from pursuing the present course of militant defiance. Statistics suggest that there has been no let-up in the frequency and scale of suicide bombings and acts of sabotage compared to the last year, as acknowledged by U.S. CJCS General Meyers on Wednesday.  Secretary Rumsfeld went to the extent of saying that the resistance could not be defeated with arms, giving the lie to the U.S. thesis of seeking coercive compliance.... One really wonders whether Mr. al-Ja'fari would have the chance to attend to services and reconstruction, two of the three goals he outlined for his government. The third, security, would almost entirely consume his time and efforts and to no avail, unless Washington obliges with the vacation of its aggression that stands at the root of the problem."

>"A Comment To Welcome"

An editorial in the centrist national English-language News said (4/28): "Efforts for the formation of a coalition continue to be stalled by ongoing wrangling between the parties and groups who were successful in the controversial elections of January 30. But when a government is formed, it will not be a theocracy, said Mr. Talabani in the interview. This is not the first time he has again spoken out against theocracy becoming the basis for a future Iraq. He has now spoken in greater detail on what he thinks would be most suitable for "the Iraqi social makeup." He explained: "Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Sunnis, Shias, Muslims, Christian, all live together, and this structure would not allow an Islamic regime."... In Pakistan, before the era of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, the country's Islamic identity was respected, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Talabani's interview. Pakistan, which is a greater multi-sectarian and multi-religious mosaic than Iraq, is paying a heavy price for the general's abortive attempt to turn the country into a theocracy. It is something to be glad about that Iraq is aware of the dangers of the imposition of religion on the state."

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

CANADA: "Progress In Iraq"

The conservative National Post opined (4/29): "In the three months since Iraq's elections, the initial joy and optimism arising from the historic event have waned. Bickering among elected lawmakers and their supporters has prevented the formation of a new government, and insurgent violence has been on the rise. But this week, the Iraqis came through with a crucial political deal, creating a Cabinet that includes representatives from all of the country's major ethnic and religious factions.... No complete evaluation of the new Cabinet can be made until we know who has been charged with protecting Iraq, and whether that individual is capable of gaining the respect and trust of the Iraqi people. Better news is that those rumored to be the proposed new Shiite and Kurdish deputies - Ahmad Chalabi and Rowsch Nouri Shaways (a former vice president), respectively - are competent men with proven records, even if Mr. Chalabi has fallen out of favor with the Americans. Hopefully, those and other appointments will come to pass with relative expedience so the new government can focus on its next momentous task: putting together a permanent constitution by the designated deadline of Aug.15."

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