May 2, 2003
IRAQ: SHIITE UPRISINGS A 'PARADOX' OF FREEDOM OR
** Conservative Western outlets portrayed the
Shiite uprisings as a manifestation of freedom, but critics worldwide claimed
they meant rejection of the "U.S. model" of democracy.
** The Shia "resurgence" is a warning
of the urgent need to fill the power vacuum left by the fall of Saddam and
reveals the U.S.' "lack of preparedness" in restoring normalcy to
** The "flare-up" of religious
sentiment signals that the new Iraq could turn into a "second Iran."
Shiites' right to protest is 'owed entirely' to
U.S.' liberating Iraq-- Conservative dailies
claimed the anti-U.S. protests and Shia demonstrations validated the rationale
"invoked by Bush" to legitimize the war and expressed the "very
dialectic of democracy." Optimists
contended that the allied forces have "opened up a society" enabling
its "plurality to flower." This, Spain's ABC noted, has put
Iraq on its way to the "full exercise of liberties" and determining
its own "destiny." Others also
recognized the opposition to U.S. presence as a "democratic right" of
the Iraqi people but, with Tanzania's IPP-owned Guardian, cautioned that
the "precipitous departure of U.S. forces" would leave Iraqis
"on the road to ethnic cleansing."
Iraqis are 'delighted' with Saddam's defeat but
don't necessarily want democracy-- While it was
"undeniable" that the majority of Iraqis are happy that Saddam's
"bloodthirsty regime" is gone, skeptics insisted that an
"anti-American theocracy," rather than democracy could take root. Alluding to the U.S.-Shiite "tradition
of incompatibility," European, Asian and Latin papers questioned whether
the "newly freed Shiites" were even interested in democracy. "Clearly the U.S. model of democracy
does not inspire Shia leaders," added Russia's reformist Vremya MN. Arab and Muslim writers agreed with Algeria's
French-language Liberte that "peoples do not swear allegiance to
Its 'admitted failure' to anticipate the Shia
protests reveals U.S. is 'unprepared'-- Liberal European papers found it
"truly novel" that the U.S. had "freely admitted" it did
not expect a Shia resurgence. Outlets in
Arab and Muslim-majority countries likewise stressed that the U.S. army seems
"particularly unable" to handle the situation and held that the U.S.
would never accept an Islamic regime, even if "it turns out to be the
choice of the masses." While a
Tunisian daily found the "Shiite vision frightful on many levels,"
the conservative Saudi Al Riyadh declared: "What is certain is that
the Islamic movement is the strongest power in Iraq."
An 'immense similarity' between Iran's post-Shah
era and Iraq's post-Saddam era-- Analysts said the Islamic movement in Iraq may
be a prelude to another Iran, with Teheran ready to play the "Shia
card" to prevent the U.S. from installing a "puppet regime." Singapore's pro-government Straits Times
warned that the U.S. "cannot afford" to let Iran benefit from the
removal of "Teheran's archenemy only to replace him with a fundamentalist
This analyis is based on 60 reports from 29 countries, 4/22-5/2. Editorial excerpts from each country is
listed from the most recent date.
"Democracy In Iraq Requires Both Benevolence And Time"
Martin Wolf, a senior editor with the independent Financial
Times said (4/30): "The U.S.
has won its war. Now it must win the
peace. Its promise has been to help Iraq
emerge as a democracy. The goal is as
splendid as it appears remote.... Is all
this feasible? Barely. Obstacles
include: the absence of experience with democracy; the atomization of civil
society; the country's internal divisions; the lack of independent
institutions; and the dominant role of oil as the source of income for the
government.... The United States views
itself as benevolent. Iraqis do not
necessarily share the same view. A long
occupation by the United States and the UK without UN authorization, can have a
limited chance of achieving this goal.
Yet does this mean other countries should rush forward with
legitimization and support. Why should
those the United States ignored in its rush to war legitimize its role in a
botched peace. The emergence of a
constitutional democracy would be wonderful.
But it cannot simply be imposed in a matter of months. Alas, the likely escape is acceptance of
another despot, albeit a pro-American one....
The United States could indeed commit itself to supporting the difficult
transition to democracy. Only if it does,
should the rest of the west be prepared to lend a hand."
"Ferment Of Freedom, Fear And Fantasy"
The independent weekly Economist noted (4/25-5/2): "Until Saddam is found alive or dead, he
will continue to spook Iraqis.... But
the bigger fear is of a power struggle between emerging political forces.... Another worry is that if secularist,
American-backed oppositionists with little local backing are strong-armed into
office, reactions may be fierce.... In
public, all Iraqis insis ont heir desire for unity: 'Sunni and Shia together,
this land is not for sale!' was this week's favoured slogan both for political
rallies in Baghdad and religious processions in Karbala. Even so, many Sunnis, former Baathist
apparatchiks and Christians remain wary of the Shia, not only because of their
clergy's mobilising power. This may be
exaggerated. Shia religious leaders
themeselves decry the divisive rivalry between differing schools. Their one point of unity is that America is
not welcome to stay for long."
The independent Financial Times held
(4/28): "The overthrow of Saddam
Hussein's regime three weeks ago created a vacuum in Iraq that the U.S.-UK
invasion and the Pentagon-run administrators brought in to run the country have
struggled to fill. That is regretable
but not unsurprising. More surprising is
how Washington seems taken aback by the speed with which Shia religious leaders
of varying hues have moved to establish their authority among Iraqis.... The Bush administration appears to have
believed a bit too much of its own propaganda, and the stirring tales it was
told by its favorite Iraqi exiles....
The challenge for Iraq's Anglo-American rulers is to identify and
encourage reformist leaders seeking justice and control over their own affairs
for the downtrodden Shia as well as a fair share in central government. All that will be fraught with problems. But even to appear to be working against Shia
interests would quickly bring the revolutionary strain in this faith to the
fore. And that would need little
encouragement from Iran."
"Resurgence Of The Shias"
left Guardian argued (4/24): "U.S. and British politicians
predicted before the war that indigenous Iraqi leaders would emerge to fill the
post-Saddam, post-Ba'athist power vacuum. That process is now indeed gathering
pace but with results both unanticipated and potentially inimical to coalition
plans. All over non-Kurdish Iraq, Shia clerics and their followers are taking
de facto charge of towns and neighbourhoods while well-meaning American consuls
scratch their heads and debate democracy in Irbil.... On one level, this nascent, unfettered Shia
bid for local self-determination after years of repression is a positive
outcome of the war. But on the national level, it may yet come to present a
serious challenge to U.S.-British hopes of inclusive, integrated statehood....
The Shia have not turned hostile yet. But in time, if their aspirations are
frustrated and they are denied a leading role in Iraq's future governance, they
surely will. That breakdown may in turn suck in Iran and affect Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia, too. Such destabilising scenarios are hardly new. What is truly novel
is the now freely admitted failure of the U.S. to anticipate this Shia
resurgence; its feeble efforts to scapegoat Tehran's mullahs; and the
embarrassing cluelessness of Jay Garner, the ex-general currently puzzling,
glue-pot in hand, over the myriad broken pieces of the Iraqi mosaic. Hamstrung
by legal ambiguities and its own ideology, the U.S. risks losing the political
initiative. The case for the UN taking charge grows more urgent by the
“The Specter Of The Iranian Revolution”
Right-of-center Les Echos editorialized (4/25): “The Kerbala pilgrimage is a warning for the
U.S. Not so much because of the slogans
carried by the crowds, but because it proves the Shiites’ ability to get
organized. For the time being the
demonstration, which was made possible thanks to the Americans, looks more like
a community gathering than a revolution.
But Jay Garner needs to move very fast: otherwise the vacuum left by the
fall of Saddam’s regime could be filled by an Islamic Republic, similar to
Pierre Rousselin stated in right-of-center Le
Figaro (4/23): “The Kerbala pilgrimage proves that Allah has a stronger
attraction for the Iraqis than U.S. soldiers.
With the knowledge that the Shiite majority feels it has to take its
revenge for so much oppression, these demonstrations should serve as a warning
to the Americans.… Secretary Rumsfeld’s comments about Iraq’s administration by
the U.S., lasting ‘no longer than necessary,’...is useless. It is urgent to fill the power vacuum. As for the democracy promised by George Bush,
it will take several years.… General Garner’s first gesture in Iraq was for the
Kurds, not the Shiites. Will he receive the same welcome when he goes to
Kerbala? He must not waste anytime if he wants to keep the Shiites from
forgetting to whom they owe their freedom.”
“The Crusade of the Humiliated”
Patrick Apel-Muller held in communist l’Humanite
(4/23): “The Shiites of Kerbala say ‘no’ to Saddam and ‘no’ to the
Americans. They are demanding
power. But who should govern Iraq? They, or the Iraqi people? This is the ambivalence that is raising much
concern. As we watch the demonstrators
we can rightly wonder whether dreams of freedom will soon be replaced by
fanaticism and an Islamic regime where secularism will be considered a
crime.... An American temporary
government instead of an Iraqi elected administration could well lead to a very
different conclusion from the one planned by the Pentagon."
"Freedom Of Religion”
Michel Kubler in Catholic La Croix (4/22): “For the first time Iraq’s Shiites can come
out into the open.… Could they be planning to take over the country which has
just been liberated? We must be neither
naïve nor overwhelmed by paranoia.… It would be naïve to forget the close ties
that exist in the Muslim religion between expressions of faith and social structures.
It would be paranoia to see in every Muslim...a potential fanatic.… To avoid
such pitfalls we must be both tolerant and vigilant.… Dialogue is the only way
to bridge the differences.”
“America And Iraq’s Islamic Awakening”
Pascal Riche in left-of-center Liberation
(4/22): “The Shiites are making the Sunnis very nervous. If religious
radicalism leads to a civil war, Washington may soon be facing a difficult
choice. Leaving Iraq as soon as possible...or putting in prison the more
threatening opponents, which would be going back to Saddam’s methods.”
GERMANY: "Old Enmity
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich opined
(4/25): "Whenever Washington can
accuse the mullahs of wrongdoing, it will do so. After all, the U.S. would like to see the end
of the mullah system sooner rather than later.... But the Iranians aren't the only victims of
crude U.S. threats. The Shiite majority
in Iraq and the Iranian Shiites are brothers in faith, something that makes it
easy for the mullahs in Teheran to exert influence in Iraq. After all, they are keen to have a
neighboring country that is not hostile.
It doesn't have to be a theocracy; given Iraq's position of strength, it
would be enough if it were to treat the Iraqi Shiites in a way that was not
"Everything Is Possible"
Martina Doering commented in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(4/25): "Almost every single group
that has become politically active in post-war Iraq rejects the U.S./British
administration of the country, and some want to actively oppose it. Cooperation with the U.S. so far means the
loss of influence or even life.… The
glue that held the country together and prevented all the differences from
surfacing disappeared with the collapse of the old regime, and now the
Americans are rulers in a country in which anything could feasibly take root: a
theocracy like Iran, a struggle for liberation like Algeria - or a democracy,
something that has never before existed in the region."
"Shiite Shadow Empire"
Heiko Flottau opined in an editorial in
center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/23): "Those who like
the professed Christian George W. Bush want to democratize Iraq should welcome
the fact that the people...now want to practice their long suppressed creed. And those who like George W. Bush want to
free a people should not be surprised if the liberated people, the Shiites in
particular, are now trying to introduce their beliefs into politics and want to
found religiously motivated parties. By
releasing the genie from the bottle, Americans and British have also released
the spirit of piousness and religious zeal.
It will be impossible to put it back again.... Iraq is living in a state of
uncertainty. Because the British and
their imperial successors, the Americans, thoughtlessly promoted Saddam
Hussein's rise, they felt forced to straighten this devastating development
with a colonial war of correction. A
strongly Islamic-oriented order could follow."
ITALY: "Anti-U.S. Protests, The Paradoxes Of Victory"
Mario Cervi's commened in leading center-right Il
Giornale (4/23): "What is
happening in Iraq represents an extraordinary seal of guarantee for the reasons
invoked by Bush to legitimize...a preventive war. We have not come, he said, to exploit the oil
business or to colonize, we have come to introduce democracy. He has kept his word. He tolerates and nearly praises the political
attacks against him at the end of military battles. The very dialectic of democracy implies,
after a war, developments that may seem paradoxical and unfair to many. But that's the way it is, one lives in a
democracy also in order to have the right to criticize and perhaps vituperate
simultaneously Saddam...and Bush the liberator.... We should thank God for the fact that the
world's only remaining superpower does not see political disagreement the same
way that Stalin saw it or Fidel Castro sees it.
That is reassuring."
RUSSIA: "Tension Still There"
Aleksandr Umnov observed in reformist Vremya
Novostey (4/25): "With tension in Iraq remaining, Washington will now
have to bear the burden of easing it, and will certainly not use Saddam's
methods to do so. The way things go in
Iraq, liberalism is no guarantee of success.
It is not ruled out that what the Americans, for all their good
intentions, will get in the end is a divided country and a rise in
anti-Americanism. That leaves an
opportunity for Saddam or whoever may succeed him."
"Shiia Not Excited Over U.S. Model Of
Vladimir Skosyrev noted in reformist Vremya
MN (4/25): "Clearly, the U.S. model of democracy does not inspire
Shiia leaders. Many in the Middle East
believe that the current flare up of religious sentiment among Shiias in Iraq
is a prelude to a mass movement to build an Islamic state similar to Iran. The irony is that it is the Americans'
elective democracy which may bring Shiia leaders to power."
"Iran Out To Play Shiia Card"
Sergey Strokan said in reformist
business-oriented Kommersant (4/25):
"In the on-going fight for Iraq, Teheran is ready to play the Shiia
card, hoping to stop Washington from installing a puppet regime in
Baghdad. With the Baathist regime
fallen, Teheran has found itself with a windfall of opportunities. Even if Iran fails to bring its people to
power in post-Saddam Iraq, it has a splendid chance to have America scared out
of its wits over prospects of having another Iran, thereby making it less
arrogant and more tractable."
"U.S. Favors Communists"
Mikhail Zygar stated in reformist
business-oriented Kommersant (4/23): "The Americans are seriously
worried about Iraq's Shi'ites having been suddenly radicalized. There is a real threat that Iraq may become a
second Iran, a theocratic state with anti-American tendencies. Lately, the Arab media have been reporting
about the Americans having set their sights on the Iraqi Communists as a
potential ally. That the U.S. has
allowed the Communists to publish a newspaper, the first publication in
post-Saddam Iraq, speaks volumes.... If
the events in Karbala should follow the worst scenario, an 'Iranian-Islamic'
revolution might go in parallel with an 'American-Communist' one."
"Decades Of Repression And Militant Islam Are Bad
Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert in independent Christian-Democrat
De Standaard remarked (4/30):
“There is a great unknown: the internal developments in Iraq. It is undeniable that the large majority of
the Iraqis are happy with the disappearance of Saddam Hussein’s bloodthirsty
regime. But, it is equally clear that they do not want a continued presence of
the American ‘Zionist enemy.’ Moreover,
decades of ruthless repression and the militant Islamism of the Shiite majority
are extremely bad cornerstones for a responsible and representative
government. If the United States gets
sucked into the morass of internal conflicts and instability, it may lose its
attention for a decisive engagement in the Israeli-Arab peace process. That would undermine the dearly paid
strategic chance of peace in that unstable region. From every point of view, that chance is
fragile, given the numerous conflicting passions. It depends, above all, on the question
whether George W. Bush is prepared to spend equally as much energy on
Israeli-Arab peace as on the war against Saddam Hussein.”
"Pressure From Iran"
Foreign affairs writer Ludwig De Vocht in
financial De Financieel-Economische Tijd (4/22): “It is Iran’s every interest to exercise as
much pressure as possible on the new rulers on its Western border. The best means (to do that) is the important
Tehran based Shiite opposition movement against Saddam Hussein: the High
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Hriri).... Washington is dreaming of a scenario in which
Iraq - as the first country in the region - carries out democratic
reforms. Other countries ought to
follow. After the fall of the last
symbol of Arab nationalism, the Hriri is trying to gain favorable positions --
through the Iraqi religious leadership - in the future democratic government in
Iraq. The Shiites are the majority in
Iraq. In the long term, America’s
support for the Hriri may have a bitter aftertaste. It is not unrealistic that, more than 25
years after the revolution in Iran, a rather strict Islamic order is created in
Iraq via democratic means and that a Tehran-Baghdad-Ryad axis is born. That is probably not what the United States
is aiming for.”
NORWAY: “From The Ashes To
Erik R. Selmer wrote in social-democratic Dagsavisen
(4/25): "The U.S. admits that they
have underestimated the Shias’ strength and organizational ability. It is not unexpected that the Shias look to
their religious leaders in difficult times.
But it is important to remember that the Shias in Iraq are Arabs, not
Persians, and they have a strong Iraqi identity. One of the country’s foremost Shiite Imams,
Hussein al-Sadr, said this week that even if the Shia Muslims keep Iran close,
that is not to say that they would copy Iran’s model for leading Iraq. He also said that the U.S. must stay in the
country until the security was restored.
This signifies a realistic and pragmatic position. And it should calm Washington.”
POLAND: “Americans’ Calculation At Risk”
Stanislaw Lem opined in liberal Gazeta
Wyborcza (4/29): “The U.S. reports that Teheran is trying to politicize the
celebration by millions of Iraqi Shiites rejoicing at their liberation by its
claim that Iraq is to become an Islamic theocracy modeled after Iran.
Supposedly, agents sent across the border are working to this end. If such
actions of antidemocratic character intensify, there may appear a substantial
danger of America clashing head-on with Iran.”
SPAIN: "Putting The
Iraqi Puzzle Back Together Again"
Conservative ABC editorialized (4/25): "Highlighting the new risks can not lead
to the misery of praising a dictator who, filling the country with blood,
prevented any radicalism that was not his own.... The allied forces have opened up a society
and its plurality has flowered. There
are new risks because freedom is guaranteed and [those risks] have to be faced
through a democratic approach not through oppression.... It can be done well or badly, but despite the
apocalyptical prophecies everything seems to indicate that the steps that are
being taken in post-Saddam Iraq--although still of uncertain results--are those
which will lead to the creation of the conditions for economic recovery, the full exercise of liberties and the
assumption by the own Iraqis of their own destiny in democratic
"The Shiites And The Iraqi Jigsaw Puzzle"
Independent El Mundo declared
(4/23): "The outburst of Shiism
probably represents the main complication that Bush will face in shaping a
representative government, while respecting other liberties, because a very
important part of this group is inclined to Islamic fundamentalism of an
anti-democratic nature.... The U.S and
the allies are talking about 'reconstructing' Iraq, but the story is that the
country has never existed as such. The
only link between the different communities was the terror, and now this has
disappeared. A difficult job awaits the U.S.
in putting the pieces of the Iraqi jigsaw puzzle together."
"Time For The Shiites"
Left-of-center El País noted (4/23): "The freedom stemming from the overthrow
of Saddam Hussein may have opened a Pandora's Box of ethnic and religious
tension in an Iraqi society extremely complex in terms of religious and tribal
feelings.... The occupation troops and
the U.S. Administrator in Iraq...are going to confront a very difficult
task.... The fundamentalist group Dawaa,
always armed and active in Iraq, is now the group from which the U.S. has most
to fear.... But today is a moment of
happiness, freedom and celebration for Iraqis Shiites. Democracy, if it comes, could arrive late....
What is more incongruous is that Donald Rumsfeld, after a waging a war against
dictatorship, is suggesting that the U.S. won't accept an Islamic regime in
Iraq after even if it is achieved through elections.... But it won't be easy for the U.S. to avoid
the Shiites extending their power not only in Iraq, but throughout the Middle
TURKEY: “What Type Of
Regime In Iraq?”
Sami Kohen noted in mass appeal Milliyet (5/2): “As
declared by President Bush, the military operation part of the Iraq war has
ended. It is now time to rebuild
Iraq. The U.S. won this war rather
easily. However as Americans also acknowledge, winning the peace might be a
more difficult mission to achieve. In
this new period, the US has set three main targets for success. The first is to establish peace and security
in Iraq. The second is to revitalize
Iraq’s economy and infrastructure. The
third is to revitalize Iraq’s political system, in other words, to establish a
democratic regime, which will unite the people of Iraq.… Regarding the very
last part of the mission, which is the most difficult one, we keep hearing
different tunes from the U.S. officials.
Is Washington really going to accept an Islamic regime in Iraq if it
turns out to be the choice of the masses?
That is the main issue to answer.
Jay Garner is saying that the U.S. will not impose any type of regime
and will respect the people’s decision.
However, some other U.S. administration officials, including Secretary
Rumsfeld, state that the U.S. will not allow an Iranian style regime in
"Future Of Iraq And Shiites"
Yasemin Congar wrote in mass appeal Milliyet (4/28):
"Washington plans for a transition democratic regime in Iraq to begin
functioning by the end of May. The Bush administration is aware that time is
short, but is not pessimistic about achieving the goal.... Regarding the ongoing worry about an
Iranian-type radicalism in Iraq, U.S. officials are not singing with a single
voice. Secretary Rumsfeld clearly said
that the U.S. will not allow an Iranian-type of regime in Iraq. Yet State Department officials acknowledge
that the U.S. continues to be in dialogue with the Shiites, and note that the
Tehran-based Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SCIRI) could play a
positive role in the transition process.
Their message is 'an Islamic-based regime in Iraq is a possibility if the
majority of Iraqi people support it.'... When I mentioned all of this to a US
diplomat, the response was as follows: 'It is up to the Iraqis to decide. We will not let a new dictatorship emerge,
but we are not going to impose a model either.
Yet I don't think that Iraq will adopt a Turkey-style secular
"Islamic Revolution In Iraq With U.S.
Sedat Ergin opined in mass appeal Hurriyet
(4/25): "The Shiite reality in Iraq seems to be a big surprise for the
U.S., particularly the active role Shiites play in the society and the
effective organizational model they have.... And American officials acknowledge
that they were caught unprepared on the dimension of Shiite factor.... There is
an immense similarity between Iran's post-Shah era and Iraq's post-Saddam
era. The Mullahs are rapidly assuming a
role and taking charge within the collapsed state structure in Iraq and the
Shiites are becoming a driving force to fill the existing power vacuum. Like the Iranian Shiites, the Iraqi Shiites
stand against the U.S., and their priority is Islam.... It seems very likely
that the Islam factor will play a determinative role during Iraq's transition
"Bush Has Chosen To Democratize A Very
The English language Turkish Daily News
noted (4/22): "(T)he U.S. should also read the Shiite demonstrations
carefully.... If you think such
demonstrations are rather innocent then you have to think twice. After all, that is how the Islamic revolution
took shape in Iran. Yes, it is excellent
for people to exercise their new-found freedoms in Iraq, but in the Middle East
such freedoms may well be used to further the cause of radicalism that will
actually end those freedoms and prevent the creation of a pluralistic
system. The U.S. is obliged to be on the
alert when it comes to the 'de facto' leaders of Iraq and the motivations of
Shiite radicals. Negligence in these
areas could lead to the disintegration of Iraq."
Leading pro-government Al Ahram's columnist Hazem Abdel
Rahman (4/30): "There is currently a chance to make radical change in
Iraqi society at the hands of Iraqis. Whatever Americans do or say, the
situation in Iraq will always depend on the will of Iraqis alone. American hopes for freedom and democracy and
placing natural wealth in the service of citizens are mere intentions, but
Iraqis are the ones to turn these wishes into reality. The U.S. said it intended to transfer power
totally to Iraqis in two years. This
period can be an opportunity for Iraqis to make basic changes in their lives. They should ask why power in Iraq became
corrupt. The answer is that they did not
answer to a strong and free parliament...some may think that opening the door
for freedoms may raise ethnic and religious sensitivities. There is nothing
wrong in that. It is the only way for a
conscious settling of basic problems...it is not true that expressing ethnic or
religious problems necessarily leads to division.... The Iraqi future is determined by seeking
consciously to stop producing tyrants, because these brought about destruction,
death, occupation and waste of wealth."
"Iraqis Emerge from Hiding"
Hazem Abdel Rahman wrote in leading
pro-government Al Ahram (4/23):
"We have to open our eyes to see what is happening in Iraq. The most positive image is the
demonstrations, which broke out after Saddam Hussein disappeared. They did not shout to defend him with blood
and soul but expressed the real needs of the citizens--demanded security and
the return of power and water.... They even evolved into demanding the rapid
evacuation of American and British troops and to calling for a democratic Iraqi
government.... More importantly, some
Iraqis announced a readiness to serve their local and national
societies.... All of this proves the
Iraqi people enjoy great political vitality and, once the tyrant fell, numerous
political figures appeared to be much improved, much more honest than the
dummies who surrounded Saddam for years.... This proves the Iraqi people can
very soon rule themselves."
"Ten Lessons Learned from the Fall of
Saddam Hussein's Regime"
Ahmed Meneisy observed in leading pro-government
Al Ahram (4/23): "The rapid fall of Saddam's regime is a unique
event with lots of lessons learned especially since the Arab region still has
similar regimes...which have failed to achieve real political openness which
could lead to their modernization and responsiveness to democratization."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Will The U.S. Accept An
Islamic Regime In Iraq?
Riyadh's conservative Al-Riyadh
speculated (4/22): "The United States says it will not interfere with the
will of the Iraqi people in determining who represents them in power, which is
a good thing. But with the large absence
of (political) parties, other (civic) organizations, lack of experience in
democracy and the failure of the Ba'ath Party...Islamic movements emerge as a prominent
power, regardless of their ideological differences and the diversity of their
leaders. If it is possible to form an
Islamic front from Sunni Arabs and Kurds and the Shia and if that movement won
the power, will the U.S. accept it? The
U.S. chases religious governments and understands that they do not like it or
share its objectives or policies, similar to any Iraqi government run by
Islamic (groups.) Although it is
difficult to read future from uncertain perceptions, what is certain is that the
Islamic movement is the strongest power in Iraq."
French-Language independent Liberte commented (4/30): “The
United States is proving that a foreign army, even powerful and with good
intentions, cannot play the role of a police force in occupied territories....
Peoples do not swear allegiance to new comers mechanically, just because they
have brought some progress in their luggage. The fact is that the host imposed
his self-invitation.... Apart from this not being a normal situation, the
American army seems to be particularly unable to handle this kind of
circumstance. The comparison with the British army, in its contact with
populations, highlights the American shortcomings regarding their relations
with the local populations. The British reluctance to confront populations
contrasts with the repeated blunders on the American side.... As a matter of cause and effect, the American
maintenance of law and order might shift to a brutal subjugation of the
populations and, perhaps, to a vicious cycle of agitation-repression. Moreover, the populations are more delighted
with Saddam’s defeat than with American presence. So after having won the war, the United
States might sink into a less conventional confrontation. An Iraqi solution,
incidentally very problematic, imposes itself if the Americans will not expose
themselves to the dilemma of having to act harshly or get out. And at the risk
of other ‘preventive massacres’.”
French language independent L’Authentique commented
(4/29): “After having ‘liberated’ Iraq
from Saddam’s tyranny by the GI’s force of iron, B52’s and Thomahawk missiles,
G. W. Bush’s America, super powerful and arrogant, is trying today to repair
the damage caused by its apocalyptic aggression at its victims expense and to
establish its model of democracy. Here is a hazardous venture for the Pentagon
hawks, a remake of the Afghan scenario with an Iraqi ‘Karzai,’ in defiance of
international law and the majority of the Iraqi people, i.e., the Shiites,
whose loudly proclaimed ambitions to create an Islamic state in Iraq are not
mere sabre rattling! But sooner or later, when the strategic intentions of the
US occupiers are revealed to the public, the Iraqi Shiites aided by many other
patriots hostile to any type of foreign presence, could beat the drums of war
against American occupation and their model of democracy, which aims to cast
Iraqi society in a western mold. A prolongation of the war can however be the
game of the Pentagon’s strategists whose boss Donald Rumsfeld has affirmed that
‘letting a shouting minority make Iraq like Iran is out of the question’ and
that the US forces will remain there until ‘the achievement of stability.’ It
is obvious that at the end of the day, the US and the Hebrew state will gain
the greatest part of the dividends.”
"Red And Black"
Principal French-Language independent Le
Quotidien commented (4/28): “It was
a possibility, and now the hypothesis has become reality. Shiite leaders are
about to conquer political power.... They are acting as privileged and
inescapable partners for any form of temporary government. They impose
themselves by their number, being the majority of the population.... Within the
prevailing disorder, Mullahs with black robes are perceived as irascible and
strict. A manifest incapacity of an invading army to convert quickly into an
occupying administration? Or is it a strategic error of the Bush team.... While
the democratic hawks make confused efforts to bring their strategies into harmony,
the wave coming from Iran is realizing how difficult is their wager to
conciliate Sunnis and Shiites to stand against a common adversary on one side
and to raise the people’s consciousness to understand that the American
military presence is no more than an occupying enterprise of a colonial nature
and a messianic intention produced irremediably by the religiosity of the White
House occupants and the Zionist lobby.”
LEBANON: "What Is
Happening In Iraq?"
An editorial in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq asserted (4/30):
"The massacre that was committed by the American Army was not
enough...they also stopped any ambulances from reaching the slain Iraqis. This massacre is the real image of what is
happening in Iraq and will add to tension in the Iraqi street. Today, Iraq is in the process of
crystallizing its resistance against the American presence...a fact that
totally contradicts Bush's claims that his Army came to Iraq as a liberator. So far, only innocent civilians were victims
of this war...It might be beneficial to remind people that the Iraqis, who were
oppressed by Saddam Hussein's regime, are being oppressed in the same manner by
the U.S. today.... What is happening in
Iraq today is extremely dangerous. A
national conference should be held among Iraqis who were oppressed by Saddam
and Iraqis who were outside Iraq. This
national conference should be held away from people like Ahmad Chalabi and away
from the pressures of American Generals"
"The Last Stop"
Sateh Noureddine remarked in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(4/24): "We can say that the first
impression we got from the celebration in Karbala yesterday was that the Shi'a
in Iraq are different from the Shi'a in Tehran and are also different from the
Shi'a in Lebanon. In Karbala, we did not
see many Iranians, and we did not see the flags of Hizballah or the photos of
Hassan Nasrallah.... Apparently, the
Iraqis did not want to have anything to do with the Shi'a of Tehran and
Lebanon.... The feeling that dominated
the celebration was that of sadness for the death of Imam Hussein and happiness
that Saddam was removed.... Perhaps, the
Shi'a in Iraq really believe that the Americans are their saviors."
Tensions In Iraq"
Caroline Berges reflected in French-language, independent Aujourd’hui
Le Maroc (4/29): “The meeting that
was held by the U.S. on the post-Saddam era took place last Monday in Baghdad
with a background of anti-American demonstrations, led by the Shi’a leaders who
want to be in charge of managing the country.... Jay Garner wanted to reassure the 250 Iraqis,
who were invited to discuss the political progress of the country. The big
question is: Who will play what role in post Saddam Iraq? The problem is
primarily linked to the administration that has been imposed, even
‘temporarily,’ by Washington on a population that is more and more dejected and
TUNISIA: "Karbala Or
The Freedom Of The Self-Flagellating"
Hamadi Khammar stated in independent French-language Le Temps
(4/23): "Millions of TV spectators
throughout the world have watched with fear the photos coming from Karbala,
confirming the magnificent success of the promise made by the coalition to
bring freedom and democracy to Iraqis.
The mission was one hundred percent successful, at least for 60% of the
Iraqi population that are of a Shiite persuasion. The regained freedom by thousands of formerly
chained people by a dictatorial and bloody regime has favored the revival of
this cruel tradition forbidden for 30 years by Saddam Hussein.... The Shiite vision is frightful on many
levels, as it gives no room to the other components of today's Iraq.... This liberation has succeeded in awakening
and unleashing this unconscious collective....
The energies of this sleepy devil are here to say openly and insolently
to you, their liberators,: 'If you don't leave, we will kill you.' That bodes well!.... The power of governing Iraq has been a dream
of the Shiite for the past 14 decades....
Gentlemen, these people are not respectable, they are dangerous. If you intend to make agreements with them, I
can predict the failure of your mission....
Tomorrow, gentlemen, will be worse than yesterday and it might even make
you miss Saddam."
JAPAN: "U.S., Iran
Returning To Game Of Recrimination"
Liberal Asahi observed (4/25): "The U.S. and Iran, who 'worked closely'
behind the scenes during the U.S.-led war to remove Iraq's Saddam Hussein from
power, appear to be returning to a 'war of recrimination.' While the U.S. blames Iran for goading Iraqi
Shiite groups to abet anti-U.S. feelings in Iraq, the Iranian government is
calling the U.S. the occupier of Iraq."
"U.S. Alarmed By Iran's Interference In Postwar Iraq"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri commented (4/25): "The U.S. has become increasingly wary
of Iran's influence peddling through Iraqi Shiite groups over the formation of
an interim government in Baghdad. As
rival ethnic and religious 'anti-Hussein' groups are intensifying a power struggle
for leadership in the planned authority, the USG has become increasingly
concerned about the negative impact of Iran's move on Shiite groups in Turkey
and other neighboring nations, making the formation of a democratic nation in
Baghdad, according to the U.S. scenario, more difficult. The U.S. has warned
Iran against abetting Iraqi Shiite groups living on the Iran-Iraqi
SOUTH KOREA: "Iraq War Is Not Over Yet"
Chief Editorial Writer Park Woo-jung wrote in the nationalist,
left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun (4/29): "The Bush Administration
fails to justify its invasion of Iraq.
Even though plenty of time has passed since President Bush proudly
declared U.S. victory in the Iraq war, the U.S. remains unable to find weapons
of mass destruction, the reason it invaded the Gulf country.... U.S. hardliners are running into other
unexpected difficulties in their plan to install a succession of pro-U.S.
regimes in the Middle East after toppling the Iraqi regime of Saddam
Hussein.... This is because Iraq's
majority Shiite Muslims, who have a strong bond with Iran's revolutionary
government -- one of President Bush's 'axis of evil' nations -- are emerging as
the strongest political force calling for the pullout of U.S. troops.... A showdown between the U.S. and the Shiite
Muslims seems inevitable.... Some
analysts are already starting to warn that the U.S. might get bogged down in
Iraq, as it did in Vietnam. The U.S. war
in Iraq is not over yet. It is only
entering a second round."
Versus Theocracy In Iraq”
Christian-oriented Sinar Harapan
maintained (4/24): "The Iraqi
Shiites want a government that is free from foreign intervention. It is not clear what is meant by 'must be
free from foreign intervention.' One
thing for certain is that the Iraqi people do not accept the concept of U.S.
democracy. If that is the case, the
strong political spice in Iraq, namely religion, will color the character of
the Iraq new government.... We highly
appreciate the U.S.’ good intention to democratize the Iraqi people, although
we disagree with the U.S. way of entering Iraq though military action as the
starting point of that democratization.
Maybe the U.S. military action could be forgiven if the U.S. did not rob
the oil fields after overthrowing Saddam.
Otherwise, the U.S. will be attacked by the world: democracy is only a
disguise for inter-continental robbery and lootings.... From the Iraq side, however, we demand one
thing: the Iraqi people should avoid being overly emotional: attacking the U.S.
while at the same time they are incapable of being united.”
Romana Vs Pax Americana"
Walden Bello held in the widely-read, independent Philippine
Daily Inquirer (4/25): "Just a
few days after its military victory over a fourth-rate power, we are already
witnessing the political quicksand that the Americans have stepped into in
Iraq, as fundamentalist Islamic political currents among the majority Shiites
appear to be the political inheritors of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. If a stable pro-U.S. order in the Middle East
is Washington's goal, then that is nowhere in sight. What is likely instead is greater instability
that will tempt Washington to employ more military power and deploy more
military units, leading to a spiral of violence from which there is no easy
exit.... The Bush people are not
interested in creating a new Pax Romana.
What they want is a Pax Americana where most of the subordinate
populations like the Arabs are kept in check by a healthy respect for lethal
American power, while the loyalty of other groups such as the Philippine
government is purchased with the promise of cash. With no moral vision to bind the global
majority to the imperial center, this mode of imperial management can only
inspire one thing: resistance."
President Saddam, The U.S. Stares At Ayatollah Saddam"
Janadas Devan declared in the pro-government Straits Times
(4/25): "The American victory in
Iraq was so conclusive, the Bush administration's critics (both foreign and
domestic) have been stunned into silence....
The serious critics of the administration never doubted that the U.S.
would win the war. They always thought peace would be the real problem.... Even the administration is beginning to
realize that an easy war need not necessarily be a prologue to an easy
peace. Indeed, the way things are
shaping up, it may be a hard and bitter peace.... And there, in a nutshell, is the chief
problem America will face in post-Saddam Iraq: The newly freed Shi'ites are not
interested in democracy, let alone secularism.
Many want an Islamic state, resembling Shi'ite Iran's, the ideological
and material supporter of many Iraqi Shi'ite groups. Bush administration officials say they want a
democratic Iraq, an 'Islamic democracy', like Turkey's. Never mind that few Arabs consider Turkey
'Islamic' in any way, but what if Iraqi Shi'ites (and also many Sunnis) have
their own conception of 'Islamic democracy'?
Is Washington going to be undemocratic, reject their conception and
impose its own--all in the name of democracy?
It may have to. It cannot afford
a President Saddam to be succeeded by an Ayatollah Saddam. It cannot let Iran be the main beneficiary of
the U.S. invasion--removing Teheran's arch enemy, only to replace him with a
fundamentalist Shi'ite theocracy."
INDIA: "How Liberated Are Iraqi People"
Front-page commentary independent Urdu biweekly Dawat
stated (4/28): "The war-ravaged Iraq is witnessing everything contrary to
what the invading powers had wanted the world to believe. Reports coming from
the 'liberated' Iraq have completely exposed the claims made after the fall of
Baghdad about the Iraqi people greeting and celebrating the arrival of the
invading forces. The reality is just the opposite. With strong resentment
across Iraq, people are demonstrating against the presence of the allied
forces, demanding them to leave the country and questioning the right of the
U.S. and UK to impose a government of their choice. Not only Shias and Sunnis are united in this
demand but even Kurds are reported to have opposed the prolonged presence of
the allied forces in Iraq.... In contradiction to the earlier assurance of
maintaining the territorial integrity against any attempt to divide Iraq,
reports suggests that all kinds of differences and disputes are being
intentionally fanned. Special efforts are focussed on fuelling Shia vs. Sunni
differences and pitting Kurds against Arabs with a goal to strengthen the
foreign occupation of a divided Iraq and ultimately breaking it into smaller
"U.S. Trickery In Iraq"
Independent Urdu-language biweekly Dawat contended
(4/25): "In addition to making
false allegations about the WMD and conducting a campaign of disinformation,
the U.S. employed other trickery in Iraq.
It was to propagate and instigate differences between the Shia and Sunni
communities of the country. Invented
stories of oppression and exploitation of Shia population at the hands of Sunni
rulers were being propagated with the specific purpose of fomenting internal
fighting which would help the invaders to strengthen their hold over the
country.... The American aggression has,
fortunately, brought the Shia and Sunni communities closer in Iraq who had no
serious differences anyway."
PAKISTAN: "Arms And Irony"
An editorial in the pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer noted
(4/30): "Iraqis who have reportedly seen the surrender by Tariq Aziz as an
indication of the end of the Saddam Hussein era in Iraq, are perhaps right....
As the disruption and chaos continue, even people who had welcomed the arrival
of U.S. troops are beginning to get angry. Their anger will increase if they
think that the government installed by the U.S.-and even the interim
administration that will run the country in the meantime-does not genuinely
represent them but dances to Washington's tune. Unfortunately for the U.S., the
chances of this happening are very real...a substantial section of Iraqi Shias
want an Islamic dispensation, similar to Iran's, and do not want the Americans
to stay.... That such a Shiite theocratic dispensation would be unacceptable to
Washington was made clear by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he said
during an interview last Thursday that an 'Iranian-type government with a few
clerics running everything in the country...isn't going to happen.'"
"Bitter Truths In Iraq"
An editorial in the Karachi-based independent national Dawn
(4/29): "There are distinct signs
of exasperation among the U.S. authorities at the Iraqi people's ambivalent
reaction to the ouster of the Saddam regime.
The Americans are still unable to comprehend why the Iraqis' joy over
the departure of the despot has not translated into any gratitude towards the
U.S. The inability to predict such a
response clearly represents a massive failure of U.S. intelligence and betrays
a complete lack of understanding of the highly complex situation on the
ground.... The latest, and for the
Americans most alarming, development is the emergence of a major power vacuum
in the country following the fall of Saddam.
As the U.S. authorities looked on, self-proclaimed leaders appointed
themselves mayors of cities and local Shia clerics took charge in parts of the
south. If U.S. troops challenge this emerging Shia leadership, it is bound to
provoke a bigger backlash. On the other
hand, if such a situation is allowed to continue, an orthodox and essentially
pro-Iran leadership could well emerge....
By not heeding such possibilities well in time, the U.S. could now end
up reaping the bitter harvest of a wholly unnecessary and adventurous
"Shi'ites Rise Against
Islamabad-based's rightist English-language Pakistan Observer
editorialized (4/25): "The Shia
population of Iraq has certainly disillusioned the U.S. war strategists and has
demonstrated tremendous spirit of nationalism in the face of the Anglo-American
attack on their country. Contrary to the
projections that the Shias will shower petals on the invading forces, they have
emerged as the most vocal segment of Iraqi society to oppose the U.S.
occupation of Iraq.... Iraqi Shias'
demand for the U.S. and British troops' withdrawal from Iraq should not be
misconstrued by Washington, as they never wished to fall in the fire from the
frying pan. It's, therefore, not fair to
blame Iran for the Iraqi Shias' conduct simply because it's a Shia Muslim
State. It must not be used as a pretext
to target Tehran."
SRI LANKA: "The U.S. Entangled In Problems"
State-owned Tamil weekly, Thinakaran Vaaramanjari commented
(4/27): "The war on Iraq will
definitely create more enemies to the U.S....
The Shiia faction is demonstrating against the US invasion. Under these
circumstances, even if the U.S. wants to form a government of its choice in
Iraq, there won't be any support from the Iraqis. If they try to appoint a
government, against the wish of Iraqi people, they may rise against the
invaders. They are not going to hide like Saddam's forces. Because it is their country."
CANADA: “Heading Toward An
Haroon Siddiqui observed in the liberal Toronto Star
(4/24): “Long before the bombs fell,
Iraqis knew that their country would not have been targeted had it been a major
producer of, say, corn rather than oil.
What they have seen since, and like even less, are the early manifestations
of the American agenda.... Various
groups, not Shiites alone, have therefore been grabbing what turf they can and
asserting their political presence....
Iraqi Shiites are further divided among those who struggled under
Saddam's tyranny and those who fled it.
Among the exiles, the ones from Iran are more acceptable than those from
the West. Yet America has distanced
itself from most religious Shiites....
Another leading group is also sitting out the consultative process. Hakim and other Shiites have signed on to a
pluralistic Iraq, with respect for majority religion as well as minority rights
for the Sunnis and Kurds. We need to
hold their feet to the democratic fire.
Shunting them aside, or letting them conclude that the promised
democratic process is a sham, is to push them into active resistance. Given that five factions--two Shiite, two
Kurdish and one pro-American--have militias, a la Afghan warlords, the hope for
a peaceful transition fades. This is no
time to be making historic mistakes.”
"An Important Day For Shiites And Iraq"
The conservative National Post observed
(4/22): "Already, there are reports
that a significant contingent of pilgrims from both Iraq and Iran will use
their religious journey as an opportunity to protest against the U.S. Though the U.S. military has wisely pared
down its presence in the area, and is generally confining its mandate to
securing order and providing humanitarian assistance to pilgrims, at least a
few angry confrontations seem inevitable.
Such confrontations betray a double irony: The two fundamental rights
Shiites are practising--freedom of religion and political expression--are owed
entirely to the fact that the U.S. has liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein,
whose typical response to open protest was poison gas and torture chambers. Thus, even if anti-American images dominate
our newscasts, it is important to keep this week's events in perspective. Riots and protests will pass. But the sight of millions of Shiite Muslims
worshipping Allah in the manner of their choosing bespeaks a welcome new era in
BRAZIL: "Iraqi Chess"
Right-of-center O Globo editorialized
(4/29): "Don't invite Americans and
Shiites to the same reconstruction project: They are more used to mistrust and
dissent than to dialogue and understanding.
The State Department has included the Shiite clergymen of Iran among
those who President Bush called 'the axis of evil.' The Teheran Ayatollahs, in turn, see the U.S.
as the incarnation of The Great Satan. It would be an exaggeration to talk
about shock of civilizations here. But the fact is that there is a sort of
armed mental conflict making relations difficult.... The Shiite issue is appearing to be the most
unmanageable one: Shiite clergymen have taken over sectors in Baghdad and other
cities. The Bush government is divided.
The most intransigent ones as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fear an
alliance of Islamic, Iraqi radicals with Iranian Ayatollahs. The most tolerant ones as State Secretary
Colin Powell say the Shiite majority has to be properly represented if we want
Iraq to be a democracy. It's difficult
to imagine a solution to this dilemma without the participation of other actors
--such as the European Union and, above all, the U.N."
"After Saddam, The Shiites"
Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo (4/27)
editorialized: "Only next week will the occupation government in Iraq
begin to function.... Since Baghdad was taken, the U.S. has demonstrated a lack
of preparation for restoring a semblance of normalcy in Iraq.... Bush is
proving to be incapable of establishing peace because he has only a vague idea
of the history and reality of the nation he invaded. Washington does not see
what is happening before its own eyes.
The Iraqi Shiites do not need to be encouraged by Iran to be hostile to
the occupying forces.... The Shiites are not just a group of fanatics. In the
days following Saddam's fall, while the American troops watched the pillage,
the fundamentalists were working to put an end to the chaos.... The strongest
alternative to Saddam's dictatorship is not democracy, but a more or less
repressive and certainly anti-American theocratic regime that the U.S. is not
prepared to prevent.... The U.S. did not need the UN to enter Iraq, but it will
probably have to resort to it to leave."
"In The Lion's Den"
An opinion piece in right-of-center O Globo
(4/26) noted: "Americans and Shiites have a tradition of
incompatibility. It's this way in Iran
with the anti-Americanism of the Ayatollahs; and it couldn't be otherwise in an
Iraq occupied by Americans. But how to establish a democracy without satisfying
demands from the Shiite majority - with its notorious difficulty to separate
political discussion from religious dogma?
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says: 'A government as the Iranian with
clergymen bossing around is out of question.' He is right: it would be absurd
for the Bush Administration to replace Saddam's regime with one of Ayatollahs.
Secretary of State Powell notes: 'The Iraqi people should decide, not the U.S.'
He is also right: it's so in any
democracy. As we can see when it's about dealing with Shiites the lack of
intelligence starts in Washington."
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: “Balaguer And The
Bernardo Vega, former editor-in-chief of third
morning, conservative, independent, El Caribe and former ambassador,
stated in an op-ed: (4/28): “It will be very hard for President Bush to
find a Balaguer in Iraq that will unify that country and provide it with
democracy.... In Iraq there is no
electoral tradition and the country’s division between Kurds, Shiites and Sunni
Moslems makes it much more difficult for the creation of a democratic
government.... It will be easier for the
United States and Great Britain to win the war than to win the peace.”
GUATEMALA: “Iraq, Far from Democracy”
Influential El Periodico ran a comment by
columnist Gustavo Berganza stating (4/29): “To turn Iraq into a source that
glows with democracy and freedom, the United States pretends the provisional
government it has installed will call for elections.… Iraq is a country that currently has no
political organizations, other than the remnants of Saddam’s webs...the
scenario does not give a picture of an easy transition into a model state that
Americans want to install.”
“Iraq: Neighboring States Should Seek Harmony First"
The English-language IPP-owned Guardian
editorialized (4/23): "Shiite
believers for the first time made a pilgrimage to the holy sites of Kerbala and
Najaf, which they had not been free to do in 35 years of Baath rule.... Opposing the U.S. presence in Iraq, and even
disapproving of its action to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein, is part of
the democratic rights of all Iraqi people.
Still each political group or religious (groups) with political
positions are obliged by virtue of their Iraqi citizenship to do everything
they can to ensure that the next phase of its political life is
peaceful.... The former followers of
Saddam Hussein will rally back to Baath if they discover that the Shiite imams
are thinking not about a free Iraq but one taking orders from Teheran,
etc. The basis of a free Iraq,
democratically organized, disappears.
That is why it cannot be over-emphasized that the crucial issue in Iraq
at the moment is not a precipitous departure of U.S. forces, leaving Iraqis on
the road to ethnic cleansing. Doing so
would feed the doubts originally raised by a section of the anti-war camp,
saying democracy is a cultural issue, and Iraq won’t be in position to adopt
democratic government in the next 30 years.... It is therefore important that
Arab countries use their good offices with the various political groups in Iraq
to come to a minimum of understanding.