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Foreign Media Reaction

May 26, 2005

IRAQ:  'UNPRECEDENTED RISE IN ATTACKS' MEANS 'STABILITY IS STILL A MIRAGE'

KEY FINDINGS

**  Outlets agree, since new government, "violence has reached a new culmination."

**  Mideast and Euro dailies blast foreign fighters for trying to "provoke sectarian turmoil."

**  "Non-functioning reconstruction" efforts engender "escalation of attacks" in a "vicious circle."

MAJOR THEMES

'Change in the nature of the insurrection'--  "Larger numbers of casualties" and "strengthened" resistance caused global outlets to use terms such as "quagmire", "nightmare" and "Pandora's box" to describe Iraq.  Iraqi papers noted that the "increase in violence...represents a direct challenge to Al-Ja'fari's government."  Independent Iraqi dailies blamed the "worsening" situation on the "misbehavior of the occupation forces" which "complements" insurgent attacks against the Iraqi people.  India's centrist Asian Age judged that the "wave of lethal bombings and huge casualty figures" affirmed "the war in Iraq is far from over."  Pakistan's center-right Nation asked "how the West can continue to claim that the insurgency is losing its strength."  Italy's business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore declared "the rebels’ offensive appears inexorable" while center-left Il Riformista was struck by what seemed to be the "increased availability...of candidates for the so-called 'martyr operations.’"

A 'homogeneous Iraq is not imaginable'--  Belgium's financial De Tijd concluded that "the country seems to have been engulfed by an orgy of violence" and that "religious and ethnic divisions are peaking."  Iraq's independent Al-Sabah blamed foreign fighters for provoking "sectarian turmoil" and claimed "Sunnis and Shiites...are being killed but neither side is responsible."  Algeria's influential El Watan labeled Zarqawi's attacks attempts to "sow germs of division" and France's left-of-center Liberation agreed the attackers "want to trigger a war among the different communities in order to create even more chaos."  Regional outlets focused on Iraq's "hopelessly divided" polity.  Turkey's economic-political Dunya wondered "if these events in Iraq do not constitute a civil war, what else could we call it?"  Saudi Arabia's moderate Al-Watan criticized the insurgents but maintained that violence "is the right of the people as long as it is directed toward the occupying troops."

'Democratic beginning has failed to usher in peace'--  Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung remarked that Iraq's "new rulers...contributed to this new instability" by forfeiting legitimacy "in the political bazaar" that followed the elections and warned that "the more political maneuvers determine the scene in Baghdad, the more bombs will explode."  Iraqi papers noted a "weakness in the stability of the political process" and alleged "this government has not done anything...its speeches have been shy and its moves are slow."  Euro papers suggested the "insurgents took advantage of the power vacuum" and now "the degree of violence makes reconstruction impossible, and non-functioning reconstruction, in turn, generates more violence."  Conversely, Argentina's left-of-center Pagina 12 contended that the increased fighting is "due to an improvement in the U.S. military and operational capability...as well as to the higher legitimacy of the local government," which has made the insurgents more desperate.

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

EDITOR:  Patricio Asfura-Heim

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 57 reports from 22 countries over 5 - 24 May, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.

EUROPE

FRANCE:  "In Iraq, A Not So Shared 'Desire For Peace'"

Jacques Amalric commented in left-of-center Liberation (5/19):  “After optimism, doubt.  In Washington, promises of democratic tomorrows in Iraq have been replaced by concern....  The President no longer speaks of victory and carefully avoids talking about a calendar for U.S. troop withdrawal....  Putting Iraq on a back burner is not enough to hide the difficulties of its reconstruction....  Recent repeated terrorist attacks… seem to imply that complicity is widespread at all levels within the Sunni community…and even abroad, in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan....  The endless negotiations that preceded the formation of the new Iraqi government have aggravated Washington’s concerns.... The new Commission whose task it is to draft a new Constitution has only two Sunni members. This is in part one of the reasons why Secretary of State Rice went to Baghdad… The other reason for her trip was to send a warning to Damascus....  The problem for Washington is that the people of Iraq do not all share a ‘desire for peace…’ Particularly among the Sunnis....  The attacks which are targeting new Iraqi recruits seems to want to trigger a war among the different communities in order to create even more chaos....  This is enough to frustrate the U.S. in its search for Sunni interlocutors in order to promote Rice’s ‘strong alternative policy.’”

"Universal Principles Or Realpolitik"

Pascal Boniface of the Institute for International and Strategic Relations wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (5/19):  “The theory that the war in Iraq has helped promote democracy in the region needs to be seriously questioned.  While the war has had some positive effects, such as getting rid of Saddam, overall the balance sheet remains negative…And those who think this can be reduced to the French and their anti-American feelings are wrong. (There are those who share this analysis in the U.S.) At best America’s policy (in Iraq) has helped to promote a little more democracy but much terrorism.  Many Arab countries did not wait for the Americans to initiate their democratization…and the Americans, all the while promoting democracy, have continued to accept certain authoritarian regimes simply because they approved U.S. diplomacy....  All in all, the U.S. implements its principles, which it says are universal, selectively.  The determining factor is strategic faithfulness more than the democratic leanings of a regime.  And in the name of the war against terror, the U.S. closes its eyes to dictatorial regimes....  In its strategy for change, the U.S. is looking more to acquire the docility of a new government than to promote democracy for the people.  In essence, the neo-cons remain faithful to realpolitik.”

GERMANY:  "Bush's Democracy Troops"

Business daily Financial Times Deutschland editorialized (5/20):  "Bush's democracy corps will be late for Iraq, that much is clear.  The country, which plunged into terrorism and chaos, would have needed experts for rebuilding state structures months ago.  The people need security, but also water pipelines and a functioning administration.  However, the President's announcement of an active response force makes still sense.  It sends a message to the world that the U.S. gives up its hesitation toward nation building, the establishment of statehood in Iraq.  And there will be situations in the future, when countries will need help to rebuild their societies and to create stability."

"Late Insight"

Business daily Handelsblatt carried this editorial (5/20):  "George Bush is upgrading things at the right place.  With the announcement to create an active response corps, which will consists of diplomats and not soldiers, the U.S. President has derived the right conclusion from America's debacle in Iraq.  It is not a successful strategy to defeat a country with powerful military means.  There must also be a long-term political strategy.  The White House's new concept is right, because it is necessary to support countries freed from the yoke of despots on their way to democracy and the rule of law."

"The Iraqi Nightmare"

Matthias Nass observed in center-left weekly Die Zeit (5/19):  "Nobody can be interested in an American debacle, even not the harshest critics of the Iraq war.  It is therefore logical that the Europeans send out invitations for an Iraqi conference in Brussels on June 23.  Under the umbrella of the EU and the U.S., Iraqis and their neighbors, G-8 countries, the World Bank, IMF and the UN will be represented there to discuss the rebuilding of the country, political reforms, and the security of the region.  They do not just want Europe's money, but also its political credibility.  What was yesterday was yesterday, the message from Brussels should be.  Aren't the security of Iraq and the democratization of the Arab world worth any effort of the EU and the U.S.?  Currently, it is still easier to recruit terrorists than democrats in Iraq.  The Pentagon does not appear to have an exit strategy from the Iraqi nightmare, not to mention a strategy for victory.  That is one reason why the European support is welcome."  

"An Adenauer For Iraq"

Mariam Lau judged in right-of-center Die Welt (5/17):  "The last great hope for a state beyond civil war and disintegration of the state is now represented by the Kurds who, in contrast to the Shiites, seem to be far more relaxed when it comes to the integration of the Sunnis and Saddam's former supporters in politics and the military in particular.  Secretary of State Rice's surprise visit focused exactly on this.  Washington is now openly following a strategy, which was resolutely rejected a few months ago and which can be called 'Adenauer method.'  Germany's first chancellor once said that it is impossible to pour away dirty water that you don't yet have.  To remain steadfast in a few basic principles, i.e. the rejection of Arabism a la Saddam, no division of Iraq into three parts, no theocracy, but flexibility when it comes to dealing with the former elites.  It will not be easy to integrate the Sunnis; they stayed in power for too long, and they will not accept a place among the many other groups.  The fact that they remained quiet after the elections was a reaction to the promise to be integrated into the government.  This brazen project must succeed if a civil war is to be avoided."

"Deadly Waiting"

Andrea Nüsse noted in business daily Handelsblatt (5/13):  "As soon as the political process in Iraq makes progress, violence will let up.  Many politicians in Iraq and elsewhere had this hope and pronounced it, but thus far, this calculation has not come true.  On the contrary, since the new government has sworn its oath of allegiance, violence has reached a new culmination....  The terrorists can obviously been defeated only militarily, since they pursue a policy that is totally separated from the interests of Iraqis.  They want to show the U.S. occupation power that the attempt to restructure the Arab world through a war of aggression must inevitably fail.  The Iraqi security forces are in general not able to pacify the country.  The current heavy attacks are evidence of this.  That is why the calls are getting louder to transfer some tasks for the military to militia groups.  The Kurdish Peshmerga and the Badr militia groups of the Shiite Sciri organization would be able to do this.  But such a decision would be fatal since the militia groups feel mainly obliged to support their political organizations.  And this would foster a further disintegration of Iraq.  That is why the re-establishment of the armed forces that were dissolved by the United States, is the most realistic perspective.  Nevertheless, no one can hope for more than a containment of violence in very small steps, if it can be stopped at all."

"The War Is Ongoing"

Dietrich Alexander observed in right-of-center Die Welt (5/12):  "A war is still going on in Iraq, a bitter confrontation between two opponents who stop at nothing....  The Iraqi society is threatening to break up because of this duel that is jeopardizing its existence....  It is an inhumane struggle, which the sponsors of terror pretend to win....  But they will be unable to win this struggle, because it is directed not only against the 'unfaithful' occupiers but also against any future perspective of the country, even against the Iraqis themselves.  It is true that they do not want to see the U.S. army in their country, but even less the rule of the Islamic terror group with its way of thinking that reminds us of medieval times.  In the Afghanistan of the Taliban they were able to see where this leads.  But they will not be able to win this struggle against the United States and its allies, because President Bush is obviously unwilling to give in.  The Senate unanimously approved another 82 billion dollars for the military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Bush wants the victory, and he needs it.  Otherwise his vision of a new Middle East will die and with it the probably last chance to enter the history books as a great president.  He knows that he needs stamina for this and requires his compatriots to make great sacrifices.  There can and there will be only one winner in Iraq."

"Fading Ray Of Hope"

Centrist Abendzeitung argued (5/12):  "Following the elections there had been a ray of hope.  Unexpectedly, many Iraqis went to the polls despite all terrorist threats.  But this mood for a new beginning faded long ago.  The formation of a government took three months before a broad consensus was reached.  Disappointment spread and the insurgents took advantage of the power vacuum.  The remaining authority of the state eroded.  Iraqi security forces are entrenching themselves in police stations or leave them voluntarily.  And a short-term solution is not in sight."

"Defeating The Terrorists:  The Quicker The Better"

Center-right Märkische Oder-Zeitung said (5/12):  "The only goal of the terrorists is to create chaos.  Unlike the Vietcong, they will hardly be able to win, for they have, unlike in Vietnam, no common platform for the future of the country.  The future of Iraq rather depends on how quickly they can be defeated.  The news of the past few weeks did not create too much hope.  It is very likely that the United States will have to spend many more billions in Iraq.  And many U.S. soldiers will not return home."

"Politics Of Bombs"

Stefan Kornelius opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (5/6):  "The message of the attackers is always the same, irrespective of whether they aim at the Kurds or Shiites: a multi-ethnic and, despite is religious variety, homogeneous Iraq is not imaginable.  This was the situation before the U.S. invasion, when Saddam Hussein suppressed the free will, this was the situation at the beginning of the occupation, when the anger was directed at the United States, and this is the situation now that an elected government has taken over business.  But the new rulers have contributed to this new instability, when they forfeited the legitimacy, which they won from the elections, in the political bazaar....  What is left is that the democratic rules of the game must be trained in Iraq first.  The current mechanisms do not suffice for the necessary bickering about proportional representation in which people must show consideration for religions and ethnic groups.   The new government must acknowledge that political processes and violence are closely linked in everyday business…and the more political maneuvers determine the scene in Baghdad, the more bombs will explode."

ITALY:  "Democracies Will Always Have U.S. Help"

Giampiero Gramaglia wrote in center-right daily Il Tempo (5/20):  “Military commanders in Baghdad and at the Pentagon paint a murky picture of prospects regarding the conflict in Iraq and heighten the anxiety that last week induced President George Bush to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the front line for consultations with the new Iraqi transition government....  If a military victory is hard to achieve, and if it is still far off, that policy is no longer a given or immediate, especially if episodes like the revolt over the Koran, triggered between Afghanistan and Pakistan over reports of the desecration of Islam’s holy book, are worsening the already jeopardized image of the U.S. in the Muslim world.”

"Chaotic Post-War"

Guido Rampoldi observed in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (5/17):  “We should begin to ask ourselves whether things are going bad not only in Iraq, but in the entire theater of the so-called ‘war on terrorism,’ from Baghdad to Kabul, Uzbekistan and fermenting Central Asia.  The situation is progressively slipping towards generalized chaos in those areas where U.S. bases should have guaranteed Washington’s supremacy....  What went wrong in Afghanistan?  Nothing at first....  The problems began when Bush was called to use political intelligence.  He should have reunified a society that civil wars divided into tribes, by building a national identity and patriotic symbols to speak to the heart of the people.  Italian diplomacy indicated that the old king seemed suitable for this objective.  But Washington preferred...Hamai Karzai who lacked popularity.”

"Condoleezza’s Psycho-War"

Vittorio Zucconi opined in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (5/16):  “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice...accomplished the usual flash visit of U.S. political leaders, who are still too afraid to remain longer than 24 hours in an Iraq which is occupied by their troops and uncontrollable.  To hear her speak of ‘faith’ and ‘optimism’ for the future, while she took a few steps outside outfitted like a Marine on the front lines, was a classic demonstration of the saying ‘a picture is worth more than a thousand words.’  But Secretary Rice had no choice.  In a land that is still in the hands of the guerrillas after 27 months of occupation...the U.S. administration had to make a gesture, give a signal, and shake up public opinion.  Not Iraqi public opinion...but American public opinion, which is beginning to show signs of strain.  We must say that Rice, who adheres to the human and reflective side of the Bush administration’s non-neo-con wing, and is not blinded by ideological arrogance, had the decency to admit what her bullet-proof gear already showed--that the ‘insurgents cannot be defeated only militarily,’ but that ‘we need a political proposal to oppose their proposal of death.’  The immediate problem for Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice is the U.S. domestic front.  The visit, as well as the sensational announcements of the capture of guerrilla leaders...is designed to combat ‘negative propaganda’ on the left and the mass media’s supposed reliance on violent images.  Like all ideologists when their own weapon betrays them, the right wing American ‘neo-con’ is convinced that this is a war of propaganda, a ‘psycho-war’ that the terrorists know how to fight efficiently with blood.”

"Rice Flies To Iraq And ‘Opens’ To Sunnis To Stop Chaos"

Giampaolo Pioli wrote in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno (5/16):  “Washington has its back against the wall.  It doesn’t know when it will be able to bring home the 140,000 soldiers...but above all it doesn’t know when the Iraqi forces will have the capacity to maintain an acceptable level of security....  It’s evident that the ‘exit strategy’ is once again becoming a priority for the White House and the replacement of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld (who goes to Iraq only to give orders) with Secretary Rice may be seen as Bush’s attempt at détente with the Arab world.”

"Rice In Iraq"

Ugo Cubeddu observed in Rome's center-left Il Messaggero (5/16):  “Perhaps the political optimism flaunted by Rice with her interlocutors is due to the new allocation of funds, 80 billion more dollars in addition to the 170 billion spent to date, for the troops in Iraq, but it is nonetheless evident that the war, or the guerrilla insurgency, if we want to use a less brutal term, is spreading more and more every day.  And now there’s even another element, the shadow of a civil war.”

"Baathists Negotiate, But New ‘Martyrs’ Crowd Into Jihad Paradise"

An article in elite, center-left daily Il Riformista read (5/12):  “One fact sticks out: the increased availability, in Jihad organizations, of candidates for the so-called ‘martyr operations.’  American analysts thought that terrorism, following two years of intense offensive, would be fading given the difficulties of replenishing reserves.  And that in any event the biggest problems in the future would come from the Baathist and Nationalist guerrillas. Once again, the situation in the field has dispelled predictions.  The Jihad paradise, instead, is crowded with new ‘martyrs,’ which means that Iraqi borders are permeable and that bordering countries, primarily Syria and Iran, who are interested in weakening the Americans and Baghdad’s new regime, are not imposing very strict controls....  The objective of Jihad’s resurgence is dual.  On the military level, its aim is to take the war into the cities, making things difficult for the Americans.  Their goal is to be quicker than those who are after them.  On a political level, the aim is to destabilize the country.  It is evident that the new Iraqi government does not have the strength to guarantee security, and that in order to try and accomplish this, it must rely on the Americans, whom they formally hope will withdraw as soon as possible.”

"Carnage In Iraq, Scores Of Dead"

Leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore noted (5/12):  “The rebels’ offensive appears inexorable.  We wonder how many aspiring suicide bombers are out there, and above all, where they all come from.  The new Iraqi President, the Kurd Jalal Talabani, recently pointed his finger at other countries, where terrorists are trained and later infiltrated into Iraq.  The data furnished by the U.S. command is worrisome.  Car bomb attacks in Iraq have gone from 64 in February to 135 in April....  Daily attacks in February-March have doubled to 70.  In an attempt to crush the resistance, the White House has adopted a strategy: operation ‘Matador’....   In the last few days, over one hundred rebels have been eliminated.  However, these operations are quite costly. The war in Iraq has cost 210 billion dollars to date, more than four times what had been anticipated.  And yet this sum seems insufficient now.  In August, Congress will have to allocate more funds to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The latest allocation of 82 billion dollars, which the Senate will approve this week, will cover war costs only until September 30.  But the campaign in Iraq is destined to drag on far beyond that date.”

"Iraq, Endless Horror: Flurry Of Car Bombs Kills At Least 75 People"

Conservative, top-circulation syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno commented (5/12):  “A general from the Iraqi army claims that Al Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al Zarqawi has been wounded and that his capture is imminent.  But an umpteenth flurry of attacks …in four different Iraqi cities… seems to indicate that the terrorists, Iraqis or foreigners, are becoming increasingly efficient and have the ability to strike anywhere in Iraq, on a daily basis…. Since the formation of Ibrahim Al Jaafar’s government two weeks ago, 400 people have been killed in attacks carried out by the guerrillas.”

"Iraq, 400 Dead In Two Weeks Of Horror"

Lorenzo Cremonesi wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (5/12):  “The resumption of violence follows a period of relative calm, which had sparked hopes for a peaceful shift following the successful elections on January 30....  The surge in attacks is causing deep changes in the population.  Fears from the initial post-war are emerging among the people, especially in Baghdad.  It will be very difficult for Jaafari to restore faith to the country.”                               

RUSSIA:  "There’s No Peace In Iraq"

Viktor Mikhin averred in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (5/19):  “Sunni Triangle residents will always be hostile to the Americans and their ‘democratization’ policy.   Bedouins have been known for their nomadic type of democracy.   So far, the Americans have only succeeded in normalizing relations with the Shiites, as the latter have stopped their armed resistance.  But with the Shiites under strong influence from the Iranian mullahs, they may balk any moment.   Of course, forming a transitional government is a temporary measure.   Unfortunately, it is not enough for the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis to agree among themselves.”

"Intimidation Tactics"

Marianna Grishina said in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (5/18):  ”Reports from Iraq are an unending chain of nightmares.  Rebels have been particularly active in the past three weeks.  Since the end of April and the beginning of May, when the new government was formed, more than 490 people have died in terrorist attacks.  As the civil war continues, rebels stop at nothing in their bloody march across the country.  They intimidate the population and attack collaborationists, while avoiding clashes with the well equipped U.S. army.”

"Who Kindles Civil War"

Aleksey Andreyev and Yelena Ogneva noted in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (5/12):  ”The current escalation of violence has in large measure been provoked by President Talabani’s recent statement that, with the bodies of power in Iraq established, the period of U.S. occupation has ended de facto.  True, guerrillas far more often attack Iraqi government agencies than occupying troop bases.   But that doesn’t make life easy for the Americans.  They have been in euphoria since they had Syria pull out of Lebanon in a hurry.  Iraq has become a political dead end for the Americans.  The Italians are going to leave, and the Poles are sure to do so, too.  But there is no end to the war in sight.”

AUSTRIA:  "Bush On The Defensive"

Gudrun Harrer commented in liberal Der Standard (5/20):  "The buildup of Iraqi security forces, police and military, though much praised by U.S. politicians is one of the biggest problems in the country, as several high-ranking members of the U.S. military have now admitted....  It is also due to this 'new realism' that General John Abizaid announced that 'things can still go wrong.' That, however, is hard to believe.  The uprising will eventually peter out...But it is going to be quite a while until then.  In reality, the latest U.S. offensive in Iraq's Anbar province was actually a reaction to massive, well-organized insurgent attacks on U.S. troops. Hearing something like that does give you the creeps."

"New Neighbors Or More?"

Livia Klingl opined in mass-circulation daily Kurier (5/19):  “Good relations between former enemies should be something positive, particularly in an area marked by potential crises.  However, it depends on the underlying motivations and goals.  Even if U.S. Secretary of State Rice, at least publicly still believes in a secular Iraq, the two neighbors, Iran and Iraq, are not only concerned with economic and cultural, but also with political and religious exchange.  ‘Shiitistan’ is what pessimists have called what has emerged in parts of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.  A region where religion dominates everyday life and where women have little or nothing to say.  We’ve all seen it before in Iran.”  

"Vicious Circle"

Independent Der Standard commented (5/13):  "In Iraq, it is not just the security situation that is depressing.  Apart from the human toll, there are other facts of which little is heard.  Due to the security situation, infrastructure reconstruction and rehabilitation of the economy are delayed further....  It is a vicious circle:  The degree of violence makes reconstruction impossible, and non-functioning reconstruction, in turn, generates more violence.  What remains is the political process that has been revived through the formation of a government.  On Tuesday, a parliamentary committee consisting of 55 members was established to work out a constitutional draft to be presented to the National Assembly in August.  The committee was formed according to the representation of the individual political groups in Parliament, which means that the Arab Sunnis, who for the most part boycotted the elections, are represented by only a single parliamentarian.  Should this stay that way, an enlargement is supposed to be worked out, a constitutional draft has no chance of being accepted in those provinces that are dominated by Arab Sunnis.  If only three of them veto the draft, it will fail.  In view of the differences that also exist between religious Shiites and Kurds, however, this is an almost optimistic future scenario.  First of all, such a draft has to come into being."

BELGIUM:  "Iraq Taking Longer Than Expected"

Jean Vanempten stated in financial De Tijd (5/20):  “In a speech to the International Republican Institute (IRI) U.S. President George W. Bush admitted that the installation of democracy sometimes takes more time that estimated....  While the revolutions in the former Soviet empire took place in a more or less civilized manner and without much bloodshed that is not the case in the Middle East.  The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are no exercises in democracy.  However, in Bush’s view, the free elections in both countries are the keys to further democratization....  Since the free elections in Iraq the country seems to have been engulfed by an orgy of violence.  The religious and ethnic divisions are peaking.  The American generals in the field are very pessimistic.  In contrast to what the U.S. leadership wants to make believe it is impossible in the generals’ view that the American troops could be withdrawn by the end of 2005 or early 2006.  Democracy in Iraq will not be finished by that time.  Bush must have sensed the pessimism of his military leaders.  That is why his speech to IRI was moderate and why he urged for more patience when it comes to the installation of democracy.  Bush seems to be decided to bring more democracy to the Middle East, not only in the Iraqi war zone, but also to Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt.  The American leader seems to be gradually realizing that the installation of Western democracy is a difficult task.  Day after day the invasion of Iraq shows that an occupier cannot impose democracy because he lacks all credibility.  That is how Bush’s democratic missionary drive is surpassed by the bitter reality in the field.”

DENMARK:  "No Clear U.S. Vision For Iraq Or Afghanistan"

Center-left Politiken editorialized (5/17):  "The so-called Coalition in Iraq has long since ceased to be a reality and the U.S. seems to resemble, more and more, a country in confusion rather than a nation with any clear vision for the future in the region.  The situation in Afghanistan is similarly unstable.  Last week Karzai called for help from the U.S. and NATO to beat narcotics production.  Things do not look good."

IRELAND:  Terror Surge Greets Rice In Iraq"

Richard Beeston wrote in the center-right Irish Independent (5/16):  “The surprise visit of Condoleezza Rice to Iraq was upstaged yesterday as insurgents mounted a wave of attacks against those loyal to the shaky United States-backed government.   In the first visit by a member of the Bush administration since Iraq formed its government a fortnight ago, the US Secretary of State sought to give impetus to the country's political transformation....  American forces have tried to blunt the insurgent campaign and yesterday ended Operation Matador, a week-long offensive to halt the infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq across the Syrian border.....  Dr Rice said … ‘The insurgency is very violent, but you defeat insurgencies not just militarily - in fact, not especially militarily - you defeat them by having a political alternative that is strong.  The Iraqis are going to have to intensify their efforts to demonstrate that in fact the political process is the answer for the Iraqi people.’  The Americans want the Shia-led government to press on with drawing up a constitution and to meet the deadline of August 15 for a draft document to be ready.  They also want commitments from senior Shia and Kurdish figures in the leadership that they will work harder to include Sunni Muslims in the process. The disaffected Sunni community is now the recruiting pool for the insurgency.  Sunnis are poorly represented in parliament and have only two seats out of fifty-five in the key constitutional committee. The political debate is a luxury that few Iraqis can afford. They risked their lives to vote in the elections in January, but had to wait three months for a government to be formed and now face some of the worst violence and chaos of the postwar period. …”

"Iraq's Stalled Self-Rule"

The center-left Irish Times editorialized  (5/11):  “The movement towards self-rule in Iraq this year, as indicated by January's elections to a national assembly and the long-delayed but now-completed formation of a government, has not been accompanied by a reduction in the level of violence directed against the authorities and the US-led armed forces supporting them.  On the contrary, the resistance has strengthened and claimed larger numbers of casualties, at least 200 in the last week in an average of 50-60 insurgent attacks each day....  The continuing insurrection prevents the formation of an effective governing apparatus in many parts of Iraq, despite the agreement on filling the remaining positions in the transitional government announced last Sunday.  Completion of the cabinet appointments is a substantial achievement, belying the scepticism generated by the long delay in doing so. There is an overall balance between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish ministers, and the most sensitive ministries such as defence and oil have now been allocated. The more leeway this transitional government has in security affairs the more convincing it will be to ordinary Iraqis and the more legitimacy it will generate. That explains this week's determined efforts by US-led forces to break up the latest outbreak of resistance, with an escalating rate of casualties. If this succeeds the 275-strong transitional assembly will be better able to write an acceptable constitution this summer, which will eventually be out to a referendum. The main uncertainty facing this political process concerns its status as a journey towards genuine Iraqi self-rule and political sovereignty. The transitional government is still widely perceived to be dependent on the United States for military and political support, all the more so as large US bases are built up in the country. Unless a firm timetable for withdrawing foreign troops is agreed, along with the constitution, resistance is set to continue and widespread legitimacy to elude Iraq's new leaders.”

HUNGARY:  "Iraq’s Need For Peace"

Mihaly Dobrovits observed in liberal-leaning Magyar Hirlap (5/18):  “It is clear that the Iraqi situation can in no way be compared to Vietnam, or to Afghanistan’s Soviet occupation.  There is no kind of national resistance, as no alternative political programs have been announced, either....  The very advantage of the Iraqi government is that...at long last, they are able to offer a positive program, the promise of national reconciliation and of economic prosperity....  For trust, however, livelihood is also necessary, and the majority of the Iraqis are still trying to find ways of survival in a barely, barely functioning economy.  Beyond the Sunni feelings of being insulted and their desire for revenge, isolation and lack of perspectives in everyday life are the hotbeds of terrorism.  And the Iraqi economy’s recovery is hardly conceivable without the country receiving assistance from the international community, such as investments, oil production quotas, but if need be, aid and protective umbrella provided by donor countries too. Straightening out Iraq’s economy is an elementary interest of the developed world, and in that, the European Union could also play a key role. And in the near future, it would rather increase, and not decrease, foreign presence in Iraq.”

ROMANIA:  "The Romanian Model"

Bogdan Chirieac opined in independent Gandul (5/20):  “The situation in Iraq is serious for all those present there, either Iraqi or foreigners....  At the international level, the crisis could bring about not only a series of local wars, but also a major economic recession because of a sudden in increase in the price of oil....  If President Bush uses the Romanian example, for reasons dictated by domestic politics, in order to give the Americans hope that everything will be fine in Iraq, then his speech delivered at the International Republican Institute makes sense.  But if President Bush truly believes that the solution for Iraq can be extracted from the Romanian model, then the situation is genuinely serious for the entire world.”

SPAIN:  "Secret Trip To Iraq"

Left-of-center El País remarked (5/16):  "The unusual security measures that accompanied Condoleezza Rice's trip to Iraq are an expression of the incessant degradation of the (security) situation in that Arab country in spite of the existence, as of the end of April, of a democratically elected government....  The evolution of events points out yet again the contrary direction of reality to the progressive pacification advanced by Bush.  The U.S. can be politically detaching from the new government, but the situation turns the plans to start bringing the troops home from the Arab country into an illusion....  The Iraqi 'black hole' is yet more worrying because of the growing instability in Afghanistan."

TURKEY:  "Death In Baghdad, Panic In Damascus"

Erdal Safak observed in mass-appeal Sabah (5/20):  “Growing security problems in Iraq are a major headache for the country’s first elected Shiite Prime Minister, Jafari.  He did not even get a chance to enjoy his election victory before his poll numbers started to decline.  A recent opinion poll by Baghdad University shows Jafar’s support falling from 85 to 45 percent, largely due to the absence of real security.  More critically, the ongoing attacks in Iraq have changed character.  They are no longer focused exclusively on resisting the United States, but also on turning the country toward civil war....  The US has sent a number of officials – Rumsfeld, Rice, and Zoellick -- to Iraq to look for ways to improve the dangerous security climate.  All of them pressured Jafari that he needed to increase the proportion of Sunnis both in the new Iraqi administration and on the constitutional commission.  But the problem will not be solved even if this goal is achieved.  There is also the Zarkavi factor.  Zarkavi has called on Sunnis not to participate in the Iraqi constitutional process, and threatened to brand anyone who does cooperate as an infidel.  Zarkavi apparently made these threatening remarks in Syria.  Secretary Rice has already accused Syria of sheltering terrorists.  It seems that Syria will end up risking harsh retaliation by the United States if the attacks by Zarkavi and his  group continue.”

"This Is Only The Beginning"

Haluk Ulman wrote in economic-political Dunya (5/13):  “The bloodshed in Iraq seems endless.  Since Ibrahim Jaferi established his new government on April 28, more than 400 Iraqis have died in suicide attacks at mosques, in market places, and at police stations in Baghdat, Erbil, Mosul, and Bakuba.  Whether you call them insurgents or terrorists, all of these attackers are Sunni.  There are also fundamentalist Sunni militants who are mostly officers and soldiers from Saddam’s army, as well as former Baath party members who later joined these groups.  Their main targets are Shiites, Kurds, and US troops.  In a recent speech, Iraqi Foreign Minister Zabari said that his government will not allow a civil war in Iraq.  If these events in Iraq do constitute a civil war, what else could we call it?  How many more people have to die for this to be called a civil war?  The explosions, suicide attacks, are continually increasing.  This won’t stop until the Sunnis, who have always ruled Iraq, are somehow convinced to support the new government.  This is only the beginning.  I regret to say that there are more bloody days ahead.”

"New Happenings On The Northern Front"

Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream pro-opposition Milliyet (5/6):  “All hopes that a post-election Iraq would be more stable and secure have been dispelled with the latest wave of violence.  It is very worrying to see these incidents spreading more widely, including into Northern Iraq.  The bloody activities of the Army of the Ansar-al-Sunni militants, who are closely connected to Al-Qaeda, is proof that the insurgents have opened a ‘second front’ in the North.  The motivation behind this move was laid out by an announcement by Ansar claiming that ‘the Kurds bowed down to the Crusaders and fought against Islam together with the Americans.’  Although the new government in Iraq looks like a coalition with 37 members, in fact real power is in the hands of the Shiites and the Kurds.  Unfortunately, the political situation in Iraq is characaterized by chaos, and the militants are taking advantage of this.  The growing violence in Northern Iraq is a big concern for Turkey as well.  The Turkish Foreign Ministry’s harsh condemnation of the Erbil bombing reflects this concern.  It is a very dangerous sign that the violence is spreading northward.”

MIDDLE EAST

SAUDI ARABIA:  "Useless Calls"

Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (5/24):  "Iraqi leaders are unable to stop the daily bloodshed....  The religious men call for avoiding of sectarian disturbance.  Their calls have no use as long as Iraq is open to terrorists.  Hostility to the U.S. has become a dominant characteristic of many people in the region.  Iraq is the front lines and the Iraqis are the cannon fodder....  Fighting occupation is legal under many international covenants.  It is the right of people as long as it is directed toward the occupying troops....  More Iraqis are killed every day.  The main beneficiaries are the occupation and Al-Zarkawi.  The occupation seeks to prolong their stay in Iraq, as it appears that it is the only party capable of providing security.  Al-Zarkawi pours oil on the sectarian fire. The Iraqis are the only losers.

"Random And Mass Killing"

Conservative Al-Nadwa editorialized (5/11):  "Iraq has become a battlefield for revenge and gangs....  The problem is that the government has no authority and law is absent.  It is not about gangs.  So armies do in Iraq, which serves their own agenda regardless of Iraq’s security and stability. They kill without fear of punishment....  Iraq mostly needs a government that has prestige and is capable of applying order." 

IRAQ:  "The Sign Of A Political Shortage"

Fateh Abdul Salam wrote in independent, recently anti-coalition Az-Zaman (5/19):  "The assassinations that are taking place in Iraq demonstrate that there is a weakness in the stability of the political process.  Physical liquidations represent a danger that threatens all political entities. This peril is similar to an unstoppable flood.  Those who hope to stabilize the security situation will not prove successful unless they surround these assassinations, search for their roots, and pursue those who are responsible for such operations.  These assassinations should be regarded as terrorist activities.  Today, however, these assassinations have many disguises and the situation has become more complicated.  Meanwhile, the Iraqi citizens are the ones that are suffering the most from this situation.  During the course of the past two years, Iraq has witnessed different military procedures that were carried out under the slogan of fighting terrorism.  However, these procedures were focused on storming cities while they ignored physical liquidations due to political reasons.  The official security slogan should be to forbid all types of assassinations.  There should be a law that states that the responsible political party will be punished if they conduct such operations or if they hire others to commit these acts for them.  The wave of assassinations represents a major problem in the Iraqi political sphere. Some politicians are trying to say that these operations are representative of the unstable security situation. However, they are only giving such statements so that their own dirty roles will not be discovered. In fact, these politicians have disseminated chaos everywhere."

"The Third Group"

Muhammad Abdul Jabbar opined in independent Al-Sabah (5/19):  "There are people that want to provoke sectarian turmoil in this country.  I do not doubt this because many points prove it.  There are Sunnis and Shiites that are being killed but neither side is responsible for these killings.  The killers are a third group that wants to provoke sedition between the Shiites and Sunnis. These individuals either hate Shiites or sympathize with Sunnis, or vice versa.  They hate Iraq and the Iraqi people and they do not want them enjoy life in a democratic, constitutional, and stable state. The country of Iraq flies with its wings.  These wings represent Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmens, and Chaldo-Syrians....  Shiites used to get married to Sunnis, as did the Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmens because all tribes and families are connected with one another.  This third group of killers becomes annoyed when it sees peaceful relationships developing amongst the Iraqi people. Such a development will lead to stability in Iraq and will support the political and democratic process.  Indeed, the third group does not want this to happen. This group has resorted to various methods to stop the political process.  It has employed terrorism, assassinations, bombings, and threats but all these methods have failed.  This group's main bet was placed on the January 30th elections.  On that day, it threatened to conduct bloody operations but the solidarity and the active participation of the Iraqi people thwarted this group's success.  As the political process develops, the goals of these killers suffer a blow.  Therefore, it tries to compensate by escalating its terrorist operations. These operations have been aimed at hindering or toppling Al-Jafari's government.  These operations are also intended to make the Iraqi people forget about the political process. However, as this third group has continued to suffer defeats, it has now resorted to its last card, the sectarian card."

"The Reasons And Results Of Rice's Visit"

Islamic Da'wa Party-affiliated Al-Bayyan editorialized (5/17):  "During her visits with Prime Minister Al-Ja'fari and other government officials, Secretary Rice focused on two points.  The first was the latest developments of the security situation.  The second point of interest revolved around the political process and calling for the Sunnis to have wide participation in the government and the constitution-drafting process.  Both of these points converge with the Iraqi government's priorities.  The Iraqi government and U.S. policy both realize that it is important to reestablish the Iraqi security forces, build government infrastructure, and accomplish the political process so foreign troops can leave Iraq.  Iraq has been considered a field for fighting terrorism.  Rice's visit was important because an American official was holding discussions with an elected Iraqi government.  Therefore, the results of these talks must serve the Iraqi people by furthering the political process and fulfilling the financial commitments that have been allocated for the reconstruction of Iraq."

"Silence Of The Iraqi Parties"

Ahmad Al-Ruba'ei opined in independent, Saudi-funded, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat (5/16):  "We expected that the new Iraqi government would take political and cultural measures against terrorism.  Unfortunately, this government has not done anything; its speeches have been shy and its moves are slow.  The responsibility of the elected government is to show that the Iraqi people have one unified attitude because most of the Iraqi spectra are represented in the government.  Will the elected parliament continue to watch terrorism without taking any measures?  The political parties in the parliament have the ability to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people in huge demonstrations against terrorism.  Such demonstrations will show that the Iraqi people are united and that terrorism is isolated and weak throughout Iraq.  In democratic societies, civil society organizations unite together to defend civil rights, environmental issues, and sometimes to protect species of animals.  Therefore, why the silence in Iraq about the killings that are being committed by criminals who do not care about the numbers of victims or innocent bloodshed?  The Iraqi community needs an active political movement and demonstrations to oppose violence and killing.  The Iraqi political parties can organize such demonstrations, from Zakho to Basrah.  The Iraqi people must send a clear message to the world that they are united against terrorism."

"Waiting For One Hundred Car Bombs To Explode"

Fateh Abdul Salam concluded in independent, recently anti-coalition Az-Zaman (5/15):  "The explosion of car bombs in Baghdad and other provinces represents the most dangerous phenomenon of terrorism in Iraq.  These operations complement the U.S. forces' crimes by violating the safety and dreams of the Iraqi people....  This project is aimed at dividing and weakening Iraqis so that our society will become a field for conflict and bloodshed....  The situation is worsening day after day because of the misbehavior of the occupation forces.  These forces think that they can defeat anything by using their military capabilities.  However, they have killed Iraqis rather than shooting at terrorists and this occasion has occurred more than 100 times.  The occupation forces claim that they cannot distinguish between terrorists and civilians.  This country has suffered from a security vacuum for three months because the political parties continued to discuss and negotiate the formation of the new government.  This situation...provided [the terrorists] with a golden opportunity to prepare 100 car bombs....  It seems that the newly appointed Iraqi security officials are solving the deteriorated security situation by waiting for the number of car bombs to decrease.  This is a horrible scene, which the security officials have...purposefully not solved....  Today, the political process has become isolated, leading us to feel like we are starting from zero again."

"Checkmate"

Bassem Al-Sheikh commented in independent Ad-Dustoor (5/11):  "The recent increase of violence and the number of bombings represents a direct challenge to Al-Jafari's government.  With the armed groups betting that Al-Jafari would fail in this stage of the political process, the difficult birth of the new government was a step in the right direction.  These forces are still determined to topple the newborn government.  Now that the government has successfully overcome various obstacles, the enemies of Iraq have been forced to resort to other alternatives. They are hoping to prove that this government is unable to stop the widespread destruction and chaos.  Therefore, these groups have resorted to employing chaotic violence that they claim targets the occupation but, in reality, mercilessly targets innocent Iraqi civilians.  This development has led the Iraqi people to grow increasingly angry with the perpetrators of these operations.  The new government is working hard to control the deteriorated security situation and change our painful reality.  At the same time, the armed groups are only concerned about how to carry out their agenda of killing innocent people.  The Iraqi people continue to suffer from this daily violence and everyone has started to pray to God to keep them alive.  In addition to the ongoing violence, there are also other factors of pressure that are preventing the Iraqi people from living freely. They are facing difficulties in feeding their families and finding reliable means of transportation.  Many benefactors are behind the recent deterioration of the situation in Iraq.  These groups do not want Iraq and its people to live in peace.  I hope that the appropriate government officials will pay attention to this dangerous situation that is being burned by groups that do not care about Iraq.  Their only desire is to burn the pawns so that the chessboard will appear empty.  As a result, Iraq's enemies will take over the chessboard without even a checkmate." 

"Choose Between Division And Fragmentation!"

Hamid Abdullah observed in independent Al-Mashriq (5/11):  "When the Iraqi picture becomes gloomy for the new Iraqi politicians, they will start to call for establishing federal territories in southern, central, and northern Iraq.  This will make the republic of Iraq consist of multiple republics that are based on sectarianism and ethnicity.  If Iraqi citizens want to visit their relatives or friends in Basrah, Kirkuk, or Ramadi, they have to get visas in order to enter these cities.  They will also have to obtain visas if they want to travel to the holy shrines of Samarra, Najaf, and Karbala.  If the situation between these republics becomes aggravated, it will be very difficult for people to obtain visas.  Those who desire to obtain higher positions and earn more profits would not have as many opportunities if Iraq were to remain as a united state.  For these personal reasons, they have decided to divide Iraq....  But, if it proves too difficult to divide the country, it is possible to disassemble Iraq and sell the pieces at an auction.  After that, we can then distribute its incomes according to the deservedness of struggle, Jihad, and favoritism.  The Iraqi people are faced with two options: they can either call for division or fragmentation.  You must choose which of these choices is preferable to you before it is too late."

ALGERIA:  "The Strange Zarqawi"

Influential French-language El Watan commented (5/14):  “When will the nightmare end?  What is happening in Iraq is not a resistance to U.S. occupation, as we tend to make international opinion believe, but a war against the Iraqi people.  Every day, Iraqis, especially women and children, die in car-bomb attacks.  It is rare to see U.S. soldiers perish in these operations.  These crimes are usually followed by communiqués of victory signed by Abou Moussab Zarqawi, the Jordanian that they present as being the head of al-Qaida in the region.  It is hard to believe that Iraqis, proud people, accept to work cheerfully under the orders of a foreigner.  This Zarqawi appeared on the political scene when coalition forces invaded Iraq.  Besides killing women and children, demolishing the country’s economy, causing starvation and scarcity, he tries at all costs to sow germs of division.  In addition to the denunciations of ‘crusaders and Jews,’ a slogan proper to Islamist extremists, he calls for the fight against Shiite community.  If he is followed, the explosion of Iraq will be unavoidable.  And here, he is serving one’s country aim:  Israel....  [The American] intervention under the pretext of eliminating a bloody dictator did more harm to people and the stability of the country.  They are already guilty, following their aggression, of the devastation and misfortunes falling on a several-thousand-years-old country.  Arab peoples will never forgive them.  It is the policy of Washington, which supports henceforth Islamist-based terrorism.”

SYRIA:  "Minor Scandals To Hide Major Scandals"

Dina Dakhlallah wrote in government-owed Al-Ba'th (5/17):  "From time to time the U.S. needs to divert world attention and mislead Arab and public opinion about the killing and destruction taking place in Iraq....  The U.S. used the Abu Ghraib scandal for the first time to divert world attention from U.S. Marines' campaign in Najaf.  It used the same scandal for the second time to cover up the U.S. army campaign in Fallujah.  And recently it utilized the desecration of Quran scandal to cover up the U.S. campaign against Al-Qaem, which disturbed the Islamic world.  To get rid of such scandal, Washington uses the U.S. game of democracy and getting involved with transparent domestic investigations to punish involved perpetrators.  In most cases these investigations end up convicting one or two persons, as happened with the Abu-Ghraib scandal, where the investigation which acquitted General Sanchez and convicted one or more U.S. soldiers.  In this way, Washington unleashes a scandal, prosecutes itself, acquits itself and misleads world public opinion about the real violations, namely the occupation of Iraq and keeping prisoners in Guantanamo without trial....  This doesn't mean that there are no violations happening...but the way these violations have leaked to media at this specific time raises many questions.  It has become obvious that the U.S. uses minor scandals to hide major scandals which cannot be handled by apology, promises on the conduct of transparent investigations."

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

CHINA:  "Why Does Condoleezza Rice Pay A Sudden Visit To Iraq?"

Wu Jianyou commented in official intellectual Guangming Daily (Guangming Ribao) (5/17):  “Iraq’s new government was established on April 28, but things are not going well.  Clearly the security situation in Iraq is getting out of control.  So, at this time, why did Condoleezza Rice decide to pay a surprise visit to Iraq?  There appears to be several reasons for Rice’s visit.  First, she wants to display strong support for the new government.  Second, she wants to show that she cares about the composition of the Iraqi Constitution Committee and constitutional content.  Third, she wants to urge the solidarity of various parties and factions in Iraq.  Fourth, she wants to urge the new government to take measures to improve the quickly deteriorating security situation.”

SOUTH ASIA

INDIA:  "Iraq's Misery"

The centrist Indian Express editorialized (5/16):  “A democratically elected government was installed in Iraq on April 28.  But stability is still a mirage in the strife-torn nation.  As the United States continues to learn two years into its Iraq adventure, getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the easy part of implementing its desire to create an exemplary democracy in the Arab world.  The hard work has just started....  The Bush administration's hope that reconstruction would be financed by oil exports has yet to materialize....  Unless the critical issue of stabilization is first prioritized, democracy will have little meaning for the people of Iraq.  Difficulties of imposing democracy have been illustrated yet again by the manner in which the new government has had to backtrack on Ahmed Chalabi....  In short, democracy is an important and noble goal.  But Iraq's immediate reality demands steps to build institutions and infrastructure that can form the foundation of a stable society.”

"Meanwhile In Iraq:  Floodgates Of Hell"

Anil Narendra observed in the pro-BJP, right-of-center Pioneer (5/16):  “French President Jacques Chirac has compared the situation in Iraq to Pandora's box, while the Arab League Chief Amr Moussa says the 'gates of hell have been opened'....  It was in these hopeless circumstances that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld paid a secret visit to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and offered him freedom and possible return to public life if he made a televised request to armed groups for a ceasefire with the U.S.-led allied forces....  Notwithstanding the [Pentagon] denial [of the offer], it shows the desperation of the Bush administration to somehow find a face-saving way out of Iraq, even if it means handing over power to Saddam.  All of the U.S.' calculations seem to have gone wrong....  Independence cannot be bestowed by a foreign nation.  On the contrary, true independence and Iraqi sovereignty will be realized only when foreign armies are leave and indigenous elements assume power.  The hard truth is that the character of the future Iraqi government will evolve from the groups which successfully expel the U.S.-led forces from Iraq, not the America-approved stooges who rose to power through Washington's 'democratic election.'”

"The War Goes On"

The centrist Asian Age had this to say (5/14):  “Iraq is bleeding.  And the American occupying forces are clearly unable to stop the spiraling mayhem....  If the death toll...since the appointment of Ibrahim al-Ja'fari as the prime minister is any indication, there has been an unprecedented rise in the attacks....  The wave of lethal bombings and huge casualty figures suggest that the war in Iraq is far from over.”

"Democracy: Test By Fire In Iraq"

Cuttuck-based Oriya-language Samaja editorialized (5/4):  “For the first time in fifty years a duly elected government has been installed in Iraq.  There are seven women in the cabinet, which also has representation from the Kurd and Sunni communities.  But the democratic beginning has failed to usher in peace in the war-battered country.  Violence and bloodshed continue.  Soldiers loyal to Saddam Hussein resort to guerrilla warfare to create instability.  That is the major challenge for the newly built democratic regime.  One would hope that democracy would triumph in Iraq.  But it is a massive task.”

PAKISTAN:  "Mother Of All Messes"

The center-right national English-language Nation remarked  (5/6):  "Barely a day after Iraq’s first democratic cabinet in half a century was sworn in, 84 people were killed and 150 injured in a suicide bombing at an Iraqi police recruitment center in the Kurdish city of Arbil....  The Arbil attack may be an act for revenge for Kurdish support of the occupying U.S. forces in Iraq....  There have been other attacks too, practically every day that took fewer lives.  It seems every country that supported the U.S. and Britain in their invasion of Iraq has had to pay the price in terms of personnel killed and kidnapped.  In such circumstances it is difficult to understand how the West can continue to claim that the insurgency is losing its strength.  The new cabinet too, though sworn in, has not been completely formed due to continuing differences among stakeholders.  According to those following the occupation closely, things only continue to get worse.  It is apparent that the occupying forces have been thoroughly unsuccessful in controlling the insurgency and a let-up cannot be expected till they withdraw from Iraqi soil." 

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

CANADA:  "Iraqi Quagmire"

Editorialist Serge Truffaut wrote in liberal French-language Le Devoir (5/12):  "The series of attacks perpetrated since the laborious formation of the Iraqi government is the brutal illustration of a change in the nature of the insurrection in that country.  The motus operandi of those opposed to the government and to the coalition led by the United States brings to light two new facts: the attacks are conceived and committed by individuals with a much greater knowledge of weapons than the Fallujah militias.  And?  A geographic widening of the battlefield is happening....  Earlier this week, the American army launched an important offensive in the Western region of the country, obviously hoping to put out the fires being lit in the region.  An American official sees signs in the recent changes that the war in Iraq has entered a new phase....  Kurdish leaders and some Shiite officials signified with such vigor their refusal to integrate the official army, that the Iraqi Defense Minister had to abandon his project.  Within the Kurdish community, it is increasingly feared that all this will degenerate into a civil war or, at the very least, reawaken dormant conflicts between the various Iraqi groups.  The constitutional debate leads us to predict a chaotic future.   Indeed, the members of the commission tasked with drafting the Constitution have yet to agree on the guidelines to put in place to successfully accomplish the project....  Net result of this constitutional free-for-all.  It is more and more certain that the fundamental law will not be presented as planned on August 15.  Clearly, everything will be delayed.  The referendum on the Constitution, the general elections and... the withdrawal of coalition troops.  In short, it makes you wonder if we shouldn't be talking about a quagmire."

ARGENTINA:  "Hawk Hovers Amid Bullets"

Leftist Pagina 12 observed (5/16):  "Condoleezza paid a surprise visit to Iraq, full of suggestions and with few definitions....  Rice repeatedly said 'Iraq is emerging from tyranny to find freedom' and that the strategy of her country is based on the transfer of power and responsibility to the Iraqi government 'as soon as possible'.  This, in view of the growing violence, seems very distant."

"Hitting A Wasp's Nest"

Claudio Uriarte observed in leftist Pagina 12  (5/11):  "When you hit a wasp's nest, you are likely to receive a furious response from wasps.  This is what is happening in Iraq.  Paradoxical as it may sound, the escalation of attacks from the several resistance fronts is due to an improvement in the U.S. military and operational capability and that of its local allies, as well as to the higher legitimacy of the local government chosen in free elections....  The U.S. has reformulated its counter-insurgent strategy....  Its first important measure after the 2003 invasion had been to dissolve Saddam Hussein's old army.  This was a mistake because it threw some 400,000 experienced military on to the streets....  At the beginning of this year, the U.S. started to redo what it had destroyed.  Baathist ex soldiers...were summoned again to be part of the military ranks.  Their activity is particularly intense in the four provinces that are the focus of resistance and fall within the famous 'Sunni triangle'....  This is why there has been a sort of against-the-clock race to see who horrifies more, the rebels or the recovered troops of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship."

BARBADOS:  "Iraq From Frying Pan To Fire"

The leading Nation opined (5/5):  "The violence in Iraq knows no end.  Against the backdrop of fervent efforts by Iraq’s first Shi’ite majority government to fill the gaps in the new cabinet from the restive Sunni minority, the outlook still looks grim.  Despite the silver lining of the election in January, there has been a surge in insurgent mayhem since last Thursday when a government of sorts was formed, and it capped one of the bloodiest days of violence in two months. More than 100 Iraqis have been killed since Friday, as insurgents try to undermine and intimidate the new government.  The claim by President George Bush that good progress was being made and the people of Iraq had begun to see the benefits of a free society seems overly optimistic.  Politically, there has been even more disappointment as it took three months after the January 30 election for a cabinet to be approved by the transitional assembly, thereby underlining the difficult task that lies ahead.  Leaders of the dominant Shi’ite political alliance pressed efforts to complete the new cabinet ahead of last Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony.  But a government without the prominent role promised for Sunnis would be an embarrassing start for the promise of a national unity government that broadly reflects the proportions of Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds in the Iraqi population of more than 25 million....  Yet again, the United States appears to be facing a setback in Iraq.  Today, it is a hopelessly divided country.  It is now more than two years since the end of the Saddam regime and the post-war scenario predicted is nowhere in sight.  The end of Saddam’s Baathist regime, the world was told, would have ushered in a new era of peace and freedom for the Iraqi people, who would have greeted the invading forces as liberators.  This has not happened and the anger of the Iraqi people over the country’s occupation is there for the world to see.  The resistance to the occupation began after the fall of Baghdad and has continued unabated, as recently confirmed by the joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Meyers.  The irony of it all is that the presence of the foreign troops will continue to remind Iraqis of their humiliation and is likely to continue to fan the resistance as long as the occupation continues.  Further, from all indications, there is no timetable for withdrawal of coalition troops.  This failure may well fuel the anger and give greater determination to those offended by the foreign occupation. "

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