International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

June 8, 2004

June 8, 2004





**  Many hail new government as a "hopeful sign" but others denounce it as a U.S. "puppet."


**  The security situation will be "decisive" to the interim government's success or failure.


**  Skeptics call the transfer of power a "cover" for continued occupation.




'At last, some good news from Iraq'--  Editorialists called the formation of a new Iraqi interim government "an achievement that should not be underrated" and said it would "open a new chapter" in Iraq's future.  Norway's newspaper-of-record Aftenposten remarked that "Iraq has taken what may--may--be the first step towards a better life."  It was "worth singing the praises of" the selection of Iraq's new leaders, declared the conservative Australian, even if the process "came out of weeks of hard bargaining, and in many respects" diverged from what CPA chief Bremer and UN envoy Brahimi had wanted.  Other analysts less charitably referred to the selection process as a "charade" and a "coup" by members of Iraq's Governing Council.  "This is not democracy but rather a redefinition of it," complained a Turkish Islamist outlet.     


Government faces 'daunting challenges'--  Writers agreed that the new government faces "an uphill struggle" and that the real test will occur after the June 30 transfer of sovereignty.  "The overwhelming challenge of the interim government," said Britain's conservative Times, "is security."  Unless Iraqis feel safer, "the new cabinet will struggle to obtain the respect it deserves."  The government also will need to prove its legitimacy "by proving that it has full sovereign authority" and establish that its members are not "American lackeys."  The transitional government will have to balance the need for close relations with Washington against the need to prove to Iraqis that it is not another American "puppet."  Algeria's highly influential Le Quotidien d’Oran was pessimistic, commenting that "nobody" in Iraq believes things will change after June 30; led by PM Allawi, "an honorable correspondent of the CIA," the government "seems already doomed to fail."


Focus now turns to the UN--  With the interim government announced, analysts turned their attention to the negotiations over a new UNSC resolution to determine the new government's powers.  If Iraq is to have a genuine transition based on elections in eight months' time, stated the center-left Irish Times, the "crucial that the UN resolution should guarantee its independence."  Like others, the paper noted this runs "up against the determination of the U.S. to maintain direct control of military security" and have a "determining" policy influence in Iraq.  The still-unclear relationship between the new government and the multinational force "must be resolved" if the UN is to take on more responsibilities in the transition.  Leftist and Muslim skeptics, like Tehran's pro-Khatami Iran Daily, maintained that the notion of Iraqi sovereignty "is very close to nonsense" and that "the so-called handover of power will be occupation under a different name until the invading armies are out."


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness


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.  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 81 reports from 34 countries June 1- 8, 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Iraq Has A New Government"


The center-left Independent editorialized (6/2):  "It is easy to accuse the Americans of trying to hold on to the reins behind the scenes.  That would be unfair.  President Bush desperately wants to get the Iraqi problem off his back before the November elections....  That no one yesterday disowned the interim government, even among the Shia clergy, marks a success of sorts....  This is a process which will require many more steps, some backward as well as forward, before Iraq can emerge as a fully sovereign and independent country."


"Into The Unknown"


The left-of-center Guardian remarked (6/2):  "George Bush's grand plan to bring democracy to Iraq underwent a shambolic start with the charade that accompanied the selection of a new Iraqi president yesterday....  The only good news was that top U.S. commanders were reported to be shifting their mission from combat to defensive operations, realizing that they have failed in Najaf and Fallujah.  The ban on senior officials from the old regime is being relaxed and local deals are being struck.  It may not be democracy, but it is better than making more enemies."


"A Corner Turned"


The conservative Times commented (6/2):  "For the first time since the end of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, Iraqis can look forward realistically to a new political order.  It is an achievement that should not be underrated in Iraq, the wider Muslim world or in America itself....  The overwhelming challenge of the interim government, even before it assumes office formally next month, is security....  Unless the violence subsides, reconstruction can be accelerated and ordinary Iraqis feel safer on the streets, the new cabinet will struggle to obtain the respect it deserves."


FRANCE:  "Sovereign Iraq?"


Left-of-center Le Monde judged (6/3):  “President Bush has stated that the new Iraqi government is a success....  Good news is scarce these days for Washington, where the talk is about terrorism....  In this context, the Baghdad government, which practically self-proclaimed itself with the support of Paul Bremer and the UN’s special envoy, will be welcome news.  President Bush expects this will boost his popularity at home and abroad.  But this is not a ‘full transfer of sovereignty’ like President Bush says.  Iraq is an occupied country and the Iraqis do not yet control their destiny....  As he prepares for a difficult test of diplomacy in Europe, President Bush can feel relatively serene (about the future of the UN draft resolution).  But everything will depend on what happens in Iraq....  The transitional government must prove to the Iraqis that it is not another puppet in the hands of the Americans....  It will be navigating in uncharted waters....  It will need to establish close relations with Washington, while the Iraqi population is violently set against an occupier accused of brutal reprisals against the Iraqi resistance.  At the same time Washington needs to find diplomatic, financial and military support.  To this end it will have to set a definite date for the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq....  It will also need to show discretion and modesty...attributes which President Bush has lacked....  All of this will be all the more difficult because Washington is not in the habit of sharing power with its allies, and even less control over its Army.”


"Good Advice"


Jean-Michel Thenard noted in left-of-center Liberation (6/3):  “We will always applaud the ‘boys’ who staked their youth on the beaches of Normandy....  Our gratitude will be eternal.  When the veterans have left, our feelings will remain....  But George Bush needs to take France’s message of friendship as a tribute to America and not to his policy.  The Second World War and Iraq are not the same ‘battle for freedom.’ If only because the first was morally unchallengeable, while the other is founded on lies....  For the Iraqis to be really free they must regain full sovereignty; the U.S. Army must not become an army of occupation where torture prevails.  Roosevelt abandoned a planned military administration for France because of de Gaulle’s popularity.  Iraq may be in need of a de Gaulle.  But mainly President Bush needs to have a loftier vision.  He has been influenced by a foursome of neo-conservatives who have distanced him from a Europe which has good advice to offer when it comes to democratic reconstruction.”


GERMANY:  "The Blessing Of The Ayatollah"


Peter Muench noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/4):  "Despite the chaos and political disputes, heaven also sends a positive signal from Iraq:  Ayatollah al-Sistani...gave the transition government his blessing, but everything else would have been a disaster....  Sistani acts in the background and it is he who drove the United States with his demands into the arms of the United Nations...and if he now approves the...government, this will make the work of the government much easier....  The religious leader...again proved that he is a moderate leader who should be strengthened in his struggle against violent, Shiite hotspurs like al-Sadr.  He has now done a great service to the United States and the UN.  But at the same time he made clear that he did not do it for free.  He linked his blessing to demands for full sovereignty and early elections.  If negotiations on a new UN resolution now go on in New York then all sides involved should also keep al-Sistani and the distant Najaf in mind."


"The UN Cannot Heal The Damage The U.S. Inflicted On Iraq"


Stefan Ulrich concluded in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/3):  "Lakhdar Brahimi, one of the best men of the United Nations, lost his magic during the composition process of the Iraqi transition government.  It was not he, but the Americans and the Governing Council they installed that determined this process.  The result was not an effective, politically unbiased government of technocrats, as the UN had in mind, but a cabinet that looks like a recycling product of the Governing Council, which is discredited among Iraqis....  As long as the United Nations has the impression that it can help the Iraqi patient even a little bit, it should do so.  But it should always make clear who is responsible for the current state of Iraq.  If the therapy fails, the country will finally go down in violence, but then it was not the United Nations that failed, but George W. Bush who screwed it."


"Not Head Over Heals"


Left-of-center Berliner Zeitung editorialized (6/3): "The interim government that will be installed with UN support on June 30 does not have any sovereignty.  It must demonstrate that it has the legitimacy and the capability to unify, pacify and govern the country.  In order to do this, it remains dependent on the United States.  And the more freedom it gets from the American proconsuls in Iraq, the better for both.  Only if this experiments succeeds and only if the elections next year produce a democratic government that is capable of acting, can one seriously think about how much power the Americans give up, how many forces will be withdrawn, and when they leave the country.  Nobody can relieve the Americans from this burden."


"Bush Striking More Conciliatory Tones With Europe"


Right-of-center Pforzheimer Zeitung argued (6/3):  "It is remarkable that George W. Bush has struck more conciliatory tones when he now asks the Europeans--with Germany at the helm--for greater understanding of the sluggish introduction of democracy in Iraq.  Obviously, the president had to realize that without the participation of the 'old Europe' his Iraq and Middle East policy cannot be successful.  This is a late insight that indicates the arrogance with which the United States pursues its global policy.  Democracy cannot be exported according to one's own discretion, especially not to countries in which religion dominates the political system.  It is time to allow an independent Iraq together....  This would stress the responsibility that is part of a Western democracy."


"Transition Government"


S. Wagner commented on regional radio station Suedwestrundfunk of Stuttgart (6/2):  "It is good that the Iraqis themselves and the United Nations are assuming greater responsibility in Iraq.  And this is also in the interest of the Bush administration, which is realizing how unpopular this war is becoming in the United States with every day in which U.S. soldiers die in Iraq.  The future of Iraq, however, will become insignificant for the Bush administration as soon as it must fear its own survival.  So it will praise everything as great progress that can be presented as a halfway success.  Bush has no other choice….  If he does not want to be a interim president, Bush must wish the Iraqi transition government success and do everything he can to help it.  And this could mean that the United States could have no more control in Iraq sooner than expected."


"The Bedouin"


Wolfgang Guenter Lerch opined in a front-page editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/2):  "Accommodation and reconciliation.  These words could be used to describe Ghazi Mashal al-Yawar's appointment as Iraqi transitional president....  In the past, he strongly criticized the American occupiers but also his own compatriots....  But many also consider it an advantage that the new president is not affiliated with any party and does not back a clear ideology.  Following his first statements, al-Yawar aims at creating a new national feeling in Iraq, and he wants to achieve the goal of enabling the people to take their fate into their own hands.  But all those who do not like this direction will try to denounce this president as an 'American lackey.'  And al-Yawar will continue to live dangerously....  If all sides involved, including the domestic security agencies and the Iraqi armed forces, succeeded in promoting the pacification of the country...this would be a great step forward."


"A Bitter Farce In Baghdad"


Peter Muench penned the following editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/2):  "The haste [in Baghdad] is not an expression of sudden vigor but of increasing confusion.  Unfortunately, it seems to have moved from the U.S. civil administrators to the honorable UN envoy Brahimi, who is trying to give this more than embarrassing political farce the tinge of an orderly transfer of power.  But the international community and the Iraqis in particular must recognize as outside observers that such erratic actions will hardly meet any of the promises for the transfer of power on June 30.  The new leadership, like the old one, is not democratically legitimized.  Its composition is not the result of a quality check, but the accidental result of an unfathomable power struggle.  The heads of the new transition government are well known from the worn-out Governing Council.  These new developments that were carried out with great haste, only guarantee that one constant will remain in Iraq even after the U.S. troop withdrawal:  chaos in the country."


"Coup Of The Incumbents"


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg opined (6/2):  "The provisional incumbents simply continue to occupy their positions.  Neither the Americans nor UN envoy Brahimi can do anything about it with their plans for a new beginning.  The fact that the Chairman of the Governing Council, al-Yawar, will take over the position of president, shows above all how small the possibilities have become to shape the country's future from the outside....  This coup was only possible, because the Americans, following the Abu Ghraib scandal and the nationwide revolts of the past weeks, are in a weakened position.  They can hardly risk any more unease among the Iraqis if the transfer of power is not to end in chaos.  The Governing Council used its instinct and took advantage of this situation.  By collectively stepping down and by quickly taking the oath of the new government, it has created irrevocable facts.  U.S. control is rapidly dwindling.  A quick Iraqi independence is now surfacing.  An important demand of the critics of the U.S. policy in Iraq has now been met--but in a less structured way than was hoped for.  Thus the chances are very good that transatlantic tensions will be overcome in the Iraq policy."


ITALY:  "The Search For Lost Allies"


Maurizio Molinari opined in centrist, influential daily La Stampa (6/2):  “The formation of the Iraqi interim government under the auspices of the UN gives way to what could be George W. Bush’s longest month....  The U.S. president will begin his race in Rome on Friday, a race that is filled with old risks as well as with new opportunities.  The White House is seeking to prompt international cooperation....  The stakes couldn’t be higher.  If the diplomatic marathon is successful, the international community will come together on the transition in Iraq, as is already the case in Afghanistan, and will take both former terrorist countries to their first free elections....  Two elements will decide the outcome of a crucial month for Iraq and for transatlantic relations, as well as Bush’s re-election in November.  One:  Washington’s flexibility regarding command of the multinational forces....  Two:  the military ability of the Iraqi guerrillas and of terrorist organizations like al-Qaida to derail the transition by carrying out attacks against the Alawi government and coalition countries.”


"The American Gift"


Vittorio Zucconi commented in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (6/2):  “Being the well-mannered guest that he is, George Bush will not be empty-handed when he shows up at the meeting with the Europe that counts and with the one that pretends to count.  To France, Italy and the G8 summit in Georgia, the president will bring the present of the new Iraqi provisional government that will allow him to boast about the progress toward democracy that is being made with the UN imprimatur and to save the uncertain electoral fortunes of the satellite governments.  Giving an ‘Iraqi face’ and the semblance of UN legitimacy to the occupation was a result that Bush had to obtain in a hurry to gain back dissident governments, to comfort nervous satellite governments and, above all, to protect his wavering popularity at home....  The success that so exhilarated Bush yesterday and that his European disciples applauded was such only because the ‘tough and pure’ president of the last 14 months has gone back to being the cautious pragmatist of the reawakening American tradition, when idealistic ambitions collide with reality.  Following the ‘mission accomplished’ proclamation, nothing has gone according to the plans of the radical ideologists....  The provisional Iraqi government is what Bush needs to claim that ‘progress is being made in Iraq,’ to get more support from the uncertain and to take away from the recalcitrant others the alibi for not giving the UN go-ahead....  Bush can obtain what he really wants and what the European satellite governments are also in need of in order to gain support for their own political future tied to him.”


"Something New In Baghdad"


Leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore noted (6/2):  “The nomination of an interim government in Iraq means a radical change in strategy on the part of the Americans.  The U.S. will be asked to remain...but Washington has given up trying to fight the revolt in the south with weapons, and is leaving it up to the Iraqis to reach an agreement among themselves....  What does this all mean?  The Americans and the coalition forces, as yesterday’s bloody attacks in Baghdad and Baji show, must put their military efforts into protecting the new government and the infrastructures.  A second important objective is to set up more reliable military and police units....  If the Americans really want to find an exit strategy from Iraq, then the key word is credibility.”


RUSSIA:  "President Ghazi Yawar Is Skeptical"


Georgiy Stepanov wrote for reformist Izvestiya (6/3):  "The [UN resolution] says that Iraq will be in full control of its natural resources after June 30.  The country's new President Ghazi Yawar disagrees because the resolution speaks of a need for international monitoring over oil and gas exports.  Ghazi Yawar is skeptical.  He does not trust Americans.  Prime Minister Allawi is far more loyal and had George Bush in raptures when he thanked the United States for its sacrifices, as the two were speaking on the phone."


"How Long Will It Last?"


Mikhail Zygar said in business-oriented Kommersant (6/2):  "Yesterday will surely go down in Iraqi history, as that country, for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, got a president and government of its own....  The title of the chief kingmaker goes to Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimia, not America's Paul Bremer....  Even so, the new government is a U.S. accomplishment.  The question is how long it will last."


"IGC No More"


Yelena Suponina wrote in reformist Vremya Novostey (6/2):  "At last Iraq has a cabinet and even president again....  There are questions not so much about the new government's makeup as the way it was formed, with the United States and neighbors engaging in back-stage politics....  The government needs legitimacy in the eyes of the public within and without."


BELGIUM:  "Americans Are In Trouble In Iraq"


Paul De Bruyn remarked in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen  (6/3):  "The future of not very promising.  With their maneuvers the Americans and Brahimi not only put spokes in each other's wheels, but they have also damaged the credibility of the new government.  Furthermore, many Iraqis consider that government a puppet regime of the Americans.  That means that Alawi, Yawar and their team will have problems.  An additional setback is that the United Nations are not capable of taking over control should the situation run out of hand. Everybody knows that the coming weeks will be crucial for Iraq and that it will be a gamble.  How dangerous, however, will be really clear after June 30."


IRELAND:  "Iraq's Interim Government"


The center-left Irish Times remarked (6/2):  “Yesterday's announcement of Iraq's new interim government...opens the way for an intensive set of negotiations at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution to determine the new government's powers.  Despite well-founded suspicions that the U.S. has dominated this process, it would be wrong to prejudge these negotiations....  The crucial requirement now, if Iraq is genuinely to make a political transition based on elections in eight months time, is that the UN resolution should guarantee its independence.  That comes straight up against the determination of the U.S. to maintain direct control of military security and, through a huge presence continuing after June 30th, to have a determining influence on the interim administration's political and economic policies....  These contrasting interests and approaches could set the scene for a hard-nosed, yet constructive, attempt to ensure a successful transition.  This objective is well worth the effort.  The more clearly the interim government's independence is guaranteed the more likely it is to succeed.”


NORWAY:  "New Iraqi Government Must Be Given A Chance"


The newspaper of record Aftenposten held (6/2):  "War-torn Iraq has taken what may--may--be the first step towards a better life....  A new administration...has been appointed in cooperation between the U.S. and the UN....  The plans tell us that democracy is now being launched in Iraq.  Whether it will succeed, nobody knows....  The security situation in the country will be decisive...  Mr. Brahimi yesterday commented that it is the Americans who are 'de facto' governing the country....  In this case it is the U.S. that must show flexibility and patience and political wisdom.  Not least of all because it is in its own best interest.  For the last year has shown that a strictly military occupation alone will not bring security and stability to Iraq."


"Coup In Baghdad"


The independent Dagbladet commented (6/2):  "Iraq has gotten a new temporary government, appointed by the Iraqi governing council and the U.S.  It happened surprisingly fast, and accomplished frighteningly little....  And in light of the negotiations in the UNSC, it was a small coup that occurred in Baghdad.  The new government appears more or less like the old governing council....  Maybe the UN's plan was naïve, but the result is tragic.  The occupying power in Baghdad staged a coup in the process, and reproduced itself.  The new government will continue to be considered a provocation for all Iraqis who are opposing the occupier and its Iraqi allies....  An important part of the rationale for keeping Norwegian officers in Iraq was to ready the UN's role.  That role has now been torpedoed."


POLAND:  "A Good Beginning In Iraq"


Bogumil Luft wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (6/2):  “Political developments in Iraq gained momentum yesterday.  The interim Iraqi Governing Council...decided to dissolve itself and transfer its powers to the interim government of Iyad Allawi.  It wasn’t Adnan Pachachi--former foreign minister favored by the Americans--who was appointed president, but Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar, who criticizes the occupation of Iraq.  Most of Allawi’s cabinet ministers are people beyond the Governing Council cooperating with the coalition, and the president called for restoring full sovereignty in Iraq when he announced the building of a ‘democratic, federal, and united’ country.  This is good news as it proves that the elite of a potential democratic Iraq have shaken off their lethargy.  It seems to be a genuine elite.  Keeping a distance from the Americans, as manifested by the prime minister and the president, is in line with the mood of the Iraqi people.“


"Americans Are Not Learning”


Tomasz Bielecki remarked in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (6/2):  “Cooperation with the Americans, or rather submissiveness toward them, is like original sin in Iraq.  The Governing Council, established by the Americans, has just burdened the new government with that sin, and there is a threat the government will pass it on.  The Governing Council, compromised by lack of independence, was replaced by a prime minister--a former CIA collaborator, and a president, who headed the council until yesterday.  The most important ministerial posts are occupied by people who also come from the council or are closely tied to the U.S. ...  Unfortunately, the Americans are not learning from their own mistakes.”


SERBIA & MONTENEGRO:  "Limited Sovereignty"


Belgrade weekly Vreme noted (6/3):  "Instead of celebrating the election of a transitional government, on the first day after decades of Saddam's dictatorship, Baghdad is counting the dead.  The capital has been shaken by strong explosions killing over 35 people.  By electing a transitional government, Iraq is regaining its sovereignty after more than a year of occupation under the coalition forces headed by the U.S.  However, 130,000 American soldiers will remain in Iraq and even President Bush is hesitating to declare the date of their withdrawal.  So, Iraq will be in a state of limited sovereignty for months, maybe years....  The American administration supported Allawi's election and he is well respected in Washington.  America and the UK are hoping that election of the transitional government will give some relaxation to the soldiers in the field.  However, the newly elected government is facing serious challenges and the situation in Iraq is getting worse.  The extremists' attacks are getting stronger by the day and are taking a toll in human lives and jeopardizing efforts for the reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure and economy."


SPAIN:  "Iraq Has A President"


Left-of-center El País remarked (6/2):  "The new appointees [to the Iraqi government] are going to have difficulty establishing their legitimacy in the eyes of a country bathed in blood, where a formidable occupation force still remains to highlight their lack of authority....  The violence in Iraq is presumably going to increase....  In order to escape from their this terrible vortex, the Iraqis need a government they can consider their own with the real capacity to use its own judgment, and that is not the case with what Washington just finished cooking up with the resigned consent of the UN.  The nearest hope for radical change are the elections planned for next year.  But today, and with the events in Iraq governed by the political calendar of the United States, Bush lacks a serious plan to negotiate a Constitution and create the conditions of security that would permit those elections."


"All The President Bush's Men"


Independent El Mundo held (6/2):  "The main pitfall for getting a secure and stable Iraq is, at this moment, the struggle that the Pentagon, the Department of Defense and the CIA insist on waging for this territory....  But it was not until the outbreak of the 'Chalabi case' when it got out to what extent these disagreements are at the origin of the erratic, contradictory and one may even say schizophrenic policy that Bush is carrying out in Iraq....  Chalabi's dramatic fall...was...a rising by the 'doves' of the Administration, who would now be trying to give the message that political and economic power in post-Saddam Iraq falls to the Iraqis themselves and not to the President Bush's men....  The pressing need felt by Iraqi politicians for putting some distance between them and the White House in order to gain credibility has also been clear in the process of appointing Iraq's new president....  But let nobody be deceived: both [Al Yawar] and Prime Minister Allawi are, to a greater or a lesser extent, also men of the Bush administration....  The speech [Yawar] made after his appointment, in which he demanded 'full sovereignty' for Iraq, has then a lot of show to it.  In order to stop the spiral of violence...the new Iraqi Executive will have to really break with the one that still pulls strings."


TURKEY:  "A New Face for the New Colonialism:  Iraqi Interim Government"


Akif Emre argued in the Islamist, influential Yeni Safak (6/3):  “The Iraqi interim government begins a new era for the region, but this does not mean a democratic and free Iraq.  It is indeed the beginning of the first act in the Greater Middle East Project.  The composition of the interim government has been portrayed as representing the mosaic of Iraq.  In fact, it only creates more distortion than before, because the representation system does not have any clear reference to either ethnic or religious balances.  The Kurds are treated as privileged allies, and were placed in the critical positions.  Given the current cooperation between Kurdish groups and U.S.forces, one might easily guess who will be the collaborators of the colonial power in the future.… The U.S. intention is not to achieve a fair distribution of Iraq’s natural, political, and cultural resources among the people of Iraq.  The U.S. is beginning a new colonialism based on military supremacy.  Iraq is the pilot project.”


"Iraq For The Iraqis"


Sami Kohen noted in the mass-appeal Milliyet (6/2):  “The administration of Iraq is going into the hands of Iraqis.  The newly established Iraqi [government] is an important step toward the self-administration of Iraq....  The [government] seems to pave the way for a political restructuring in Iraq by Iraqis.  President Al-Yawar has already voiced his determination to end the current occupation regime and carry out a transition to a multinational United Nations security force.  The new [government] has also set goals for a united and democratic Iraq.  Yet it is too early to talk about the achievement of these goals, because it remains to be seen whether the interim administration will be able to follow the vision outlined by the new Iraqi president and prime minister.  We must also wait and see whether the new Iraqi administration is going to have a full mandate or work under the U.S. shadow after the formal handover of authority on June 30.”


"People In Darkness"


Fehmi Koru argued in the Islamist, influential Yeni Safak (6/2):  “It seems that Washington, having failed to bring democracy to Iraq, has now decided to redefine the concept.  The efforts to establish an interim administration in Iraq are completely against democratic principles, to the point that even the staunchest supporters of the Iraq war might be amazed.  Those appointed to the new governing council are not the choices of the people.  In fact, nobody bothers to ask the Iraqis for their opinions.  A representative of the UN is working to ‘choose names’ for Iraq under U.S. authorization....  The whole process is a clear violation of democracy and stands as more proof of the failure of the argument that the occupation is about ‘bringing democracy’ to Iraq.  This is not democracy, but rather a redefinition of it.”




IRAQ:  "The President Was Chosen By An Election Not By A Tank"


Mohamed al-Asadi had this to say in Al-Adala, issued by the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (6/3, IWPR translation):  "It is a really unique and distinguished step that took place in the last few days as the president, the prime minister and the cabinet were chosen in a democratic way.  It happened on the ground and not in dreams.  We have started to follow the international example in choosing the president by means of an election and not by means of a tank.  The president along with the cabinet feel they are strong because they came to power through the will of others.  As a result, they should work to express the people's ambitions, and they should work to meet the people's expectations.  Their responsibility is huge in the difficult and dangerous situation of building a democratic Iraq composed of freedom, peace and stability.  What happened is the first step of getting rid of the inferiority complex of keeping hold of power forever."


"Iraqi People Were Marginalized"


Islamic Dawa Party daily al-Da'wah editorialized (6/3, IWPR translation):  "The Iraqi people's role in selecting the government has been marginalized.  The occupation forces have flagrantly intervened to impose whoever pleases Washington and London....  This means a plan has been cooked up well in advance for marketing through the United Nations....  We therefore reject this formation, believing that such a method of selection in no way serves our people's interests and legitimate aspirations."


"Yawar Will Prove A Capable Leader"


Ismail Zayer remarked in independent Al-Sabah al-Jadeed (6/2, IWPR translation):  "At last, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer III surrendered to the Iraqi will and pulled out his nominees after 24 tense hours during which the Governing Council expressed its unity in choosing al-Yawar as president of Iraq for the transitional period.  Bremer was astonished at the united stance of the Iraqi side as represented by the Governing Council members to enhance their democratic choice.  The democratic practice of the GC revealed the strong ties between Kurds and Arabs, Sunni and Shia and all different elements of the Iraqi people.  They discovered the moral values in being united to stop Bremer from penetrating them to re-arrange things.  This is a new dawn for Iraq, full of hopes for the leadership that holds control of complete sovereignty to solve the problems our people and economy have been suffering from and to rebuild a democratic, modern and federal state.  Yawar, supported by different elements of Iraqis, will lead in order to guarantee a permanent constitution, to organize a comprehensive national conference and to end the transitional period well."


"Unfair To Keep The People From Participating In The Decisions"


Saleem Rasool opined in thrice-weekly, Islamic Dawa Party-issued Al-Bayan (6/1, IWPR translation):  "The nomination of the prime minister does not come out of the agreement among all Iraqi political bodies represented by the Occupation, the Governing Council, the United Nations and the political powers outside the Governing council.  I don't want to belittle anybody, and I don't want my words to be taken against the prime minister or his government.  But I deal with the process and the mechanism of the nomination.  Unfortunately, the process was blessed by only two bodies:  UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and the Occupation Forces--regardless of the Governing Council and other political forces.  The transitional government needs the support of all the forces, otherwise public coherence around it will stay weak.  Isolating the experts and bringing those who are preferred by the Occupation will not satisfy demands of Iraqis because the issue is related to the Iraqi people and to the Occupation.  What we need is a government that will work to serve the people and not change the people into servants dependent on the aid it gets from the superpower.  It is not fair to absent the people from taking part in the decisions."


ISRAEL:  "New Iraqi Council Warns U.S."


Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/2):  "Because the [Iraqi] presidency is mostly symbolic, it was important for the Governing Council to demonstrate independence and refusal to surrender to dictates....  Yawar as president and Iyad Allawi as prime minister are not anti-Americans, and some of the members of the temporary government are professionals.  But the important thing is the message sent by the temporary ruling council to the Americans:  to stop trying to name 'American' candidates to government positions, and that the 'new order' in Iraq will come from inside the country and not outside.  Meanwhile, Washington understands the message.  Bush gave his blessings to the new appointments--and lowered expectations."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Proof Of Good Will"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (6/5):  "It is difficult to imagine how the interim government in Iraq could be effective with all the American restrictions.  Even UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi went as far as describing Paul Bremer as Iraq’s new dictator.  What is needed is to convince Iraqis that the interim government is a model of what a future government should be.  At this time, it is also important to overcome the economic and security challenges that face this government.  The U.S. must demonstrate goodwill towards Iraq’s future."


"A New Iraq"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (6/3):  "President Ghazi Al-Yawar is an Arab Iraqi citizen who represents no religious sect, but represents a tribe that spreads all over Iraq.  That is contrary with perspectives of foreign circles, which believe that it is next to impossible to unite Iraq under one leadership."


"A New Chapter"


Dammam’s moderate Al-Yaum editorialized (6/3):  "The new Iraqi leadership has opened a new chapter full of hope, and that it would bring to a final end those black days in the history of Iraq.  The people of Iraq will embark on writing a new chapter that is full of confidence and would overcome those horrible tragedies and crisis.  A new Iraq is really emerging now."


The UN And Iraq"


Jeddah’s moderate Okaz judged (6/3):  "The way we see it, the UN must play an effective role in Iraq.  The U.S. also has to show its good intentions by supporting international efforts to bring peace and stability back to Iraq and end the occupation.  The interim government in Iraq must not become just a cover for another phase of occupation; otherwise we will have another disaster as in Palestine.  If this were the case, we would enter a whirlpool-like situation searching for peace until we lose Iraq like we lost Palestine."


ALGERIA:  "Doomed To Fail"


Largest-circulation, highly influential, French-language Le Quotidien d’Oran commented (6/2):  "In Iraq where in the end nobody believes there will be anything different on June 30th, the government that will be managed by an honorable correspondent of the CIA, Iyad Allawi, seems already doomed to fail."


"Almost Insurmountable Task"


Small but increasingly influential, French-language L’Expression editorialized (6/2):  “The new (Iraqi) interim government is faced with a quasi, insurmountable mission: to restore order and security.  A whole program!  The list of names stating the new president in Iraq and the two vice-presidents presented by the U.N. special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, yesterday (June 1), does not correspond to the original program designed by the UN emissary.  It has been, in some way, manipulated by the head of the American administration in Iraq.”


"Pro-U.S. Government"


Influential, strongly anti-Bouteflika Le Matin remarked (6/2):  “After several days of bargaining, the composition of the new Iraqi government is finally known.  As expected, it is pro-American, and the United Nations was not involved in its formation.”


JORDAN:  "The Governing Council Reproduces Itself"


Daily columnist Fahd Fanek concluded in semi-official, influential Al-Rai (6/3): "At least on the surface, the last word was not for America or the United Nations.  However, we will soon hear the word of the Iraqi people, the people concerned:  will the resistance stop to give the new government a chance or will the security situation become worse?"


"Allawi And Al-Yawar:  Further Reading"


Columnist Moufaq Mahadeen opined in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (6/3):  "The American occupation appointed two presidents in Iraq, one for the government and one for the state.  The first is Dr. Iyad Allawi, who is from Baghdad and former Baathist.  The second is engineer Ghazi Al-Yawar, who is from Mosul and whose father was close to President Saddam Hussein.  This means that the American occupation has reached the conclusion that the complete isolation of the Baath party and its representatives and the regime of Saddam Hussein from the political scene is impossible, and that it would be better for the occupation to inherit that regime in new form and names rather than to eliminate....  The other issue has to do with Al-Yawar.  Despite political hints about the years that this engineer spent in Saudi Arabia, the American occupation wanted to deliver a different message by choosing him for this position.  Al-Yawar belongs to the tribe of Shammar, which is the tribe that competes with the tribe of Anza to which the royal Saudi family belongs.  This means that the American occupation is more likely preparing to surround Saudi Arabia, limit its influence and drown it in new problems that could reach Syria, where the Shammar tribe is present as well, and which is considered a strong ally of Riyadh."


"Not Only Incomplete But Non-Existent Sovereignty"


Columnist Haydar Rasheed remarked in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (6/3):  "With different names and some different faces, what happened in Iraq complements the formula of the interim governing council.  It was done by American will and desire, and the worst thing about it is the continued allocation of seats on sectarian and ethnic bases and frail party representation.  While this gives the coalition forces the ability to pass new resolutions at the United Nations without referring to its presence in Iraq as an occupation force, it also highlights the marginal role that the United Nations is playing in Iraq....  All this shows that the sovereignty that the Iraqis are enjoying is not only incomplete but completely absent."


LEBANON:  "Bush Congratulates Iraq For Dictator Bremer’s Government"


Talal Salman editorialized in Arab nationalist As-Safir (6/3):  “We only had to wait for twenty four hours to confirm that the scene, which was too beautiful to be true...of the new Government in Baghdad...was only similar to sound and image effects that paved the way for the speech on terrorizing terrorism which was delivered by President George Bush....  In his speech, President Bush spoke about the new Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, ‘the respectable man’ who praised the American sacrifices for freedom and democracy in Iraq’....  Bush warned his pilots that they should shell every wedding they help democracy in Iraq....  It has become easier for us to understand the statements that were the UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi during his press conference in Baghdad, in which he stated that the Americans are ruling Iraq and that Bremer does not mind him describing him as the dictator of Iraq....  Finally, we have to highlight that Bush confirmed in his speech...that Iraq has entered a new phase, that might be the most violent....  It seems that more blood will flow in Iraq.”


TUNISIA:  "UN Main Role"


Chokri Baccouche wrote in independent French-language daily Le Quotidien (6/1):  “On paper, Iraq now has a government and a president ready to lead the country, but in reality, it is confusion and chaos that are prevailing....  Anarchy is prevailing simply because Iraqis do not believe Washington’s scenario.  Everything is carefully prepared and elaborated by Washington.  Iyad Allawi will replace Paul Bremer; only the name will change, but the content remains the same.  It will always be the coalition forces that govern and lay down the law....  The American leaders should have understood that their policy would only generate a hemorrhage of human potential and further damage the infrastructure of a country already bruised by fourteen years of wars.  A return to reason on the part of the U.S. and its allies, characterized by ceding a main role to the UN, will have definitely the advantage of involving the international community and rebuilding the trust of a people hungry for freedom, normalcy and a daily peaceful existence.”


"Puppet Show"


Jamel Karmaoui commented in independent Arabic-language Ash-Shourouq (6/3):  “After the Iraqi Governing Council...comes the temporary government...whose condition will not be better than that of the imprisoned Saddam Hussein....  The new government will live behind barriers as well....  Its power will not go beyond the rooms they meet in....  It will not go into the streets....  It will not make decisions....  Its mail will be subject to severe control undermining its sovereignty....  Its trust in the American security guards will be stronger than its trust in the Iraqi guards....  The government members came to Iraq after decades of absence....  Their exile will be long even when they are the leaders....  This time, it will not be a geographic exile, but one that pertains to people....  How can they congratulate themselves on a forced wedding between a rapist and its victim?  How can we bless a wedding with Bremer as a legal witness?!”




AUSTRALIA:  "Iraqis Taking Charge Of Their Own Destiny"


The national conservative Australian stated (6/3):  “It has been hard to hear any of the good news emanating from Iraq in recent weeks.  Everything has been drowned out by the noise of bombs, by the genuine howls of outrage over Abu Ghraib, and by the tawdry victory cries of those in the West who opposed the war in the first place, and now glory in every setback.  Yet, there have been whispers of better things.  Iraq's free press continues to flourish.  The education system has been rebuilt.  The insurrection of militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr appears to have been contained.  And oil is flowing again to the tune of nearly $20 billion a year.  But now there is something bigger that, if not quite worth trumpeting, is worth singing the praises of:  Iraq has an interim government ready to assume control of the country in less than four weeks.  The team that replaced the Iraqi Governing Council on Tuesday came out of weeks of hard bargaining, and in many respects is not what either U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer, or UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, wanted.  And a good thing too.  At no stage of the progress towards a fully independent Iraq, right up to the election of a parliament under a new constitution in late 2005, will the leadership be accepted if seen as a mere stooge of the U.S. and its allies.“


"Iraq And Democracy:  Another Search"


The liberal Melbourne Age editorialized (6/2):  “As the June 30 deadline for a transfer of power approaches, both the U.S. and the United Nations remain committed to the ideal of a democratic transition in Iraq.  Yet both appear to have stumbled at the very first hurdle in this process--the nomination of an interim president....  The U.S. and the UN say they are committed to building a real democracy in Iraq.  In the absence of a clear explanation of their initial refusal to accept the Governing Council's preferred candidate, the maneuvering could be enough to arouse deep suspicion on the part of Iraqis as to just how genuine are those sentiments.  It is a strange approach indeed to building a democracy that will reflect the wishes and aspirations of the Iraqi people, let alone one that will serve as an example to other countries in the Middle East.  The acceptance of Sheikh Yawar as president is a sensible outcome.  If the new Iraqi government is to enjoy legitimacy, let alone survive in a hostile and suspicious environment, it must ultimately be acceptable to the Iraqi people.  Had Sheikh Yawar been rejected, it would not have been a step towards democracy, but possibly in another direction altogether.”


CHINA:  "What Difficulties Will The U.S. Still Face In Iraq"


Zhang Xinghui commented in the official Communist Youth League China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (6/3):  "After June 30, with the operation of the new Iraqi government and the participation of the UN, known as the ‘multilateral solution,’ the U.S.’ future predicament will face even more complications....  For example, even if members of Iraq’s interim government have gained U.S. and UN support, if it wants to a smooth operation, it still must earn the support of local Iraqi forces.  What will the U.S. do if the local Iraqi forces refuse the new interim government?  According to American officials, the U.S. and its allies don’t at present have a contingency plan.  If this happens, the peaceful handover of Iraqi sovereignty will fall into a dilemma.”


"Iraqi Government Faces Daunting Challenges"


Wu Yixue commented in the official English-language newspaper China Daily (6/3):  “For Iraqis and foreigners who earnestly aspire for a return to stability in the war-ravaged country, the formation of an Iraqi government wholly controlled by the Iraqis themselves serves as an important step.  Thus, the formation of the nation's new interim government on Tuesday, although fraught with obvious signs of compromises between various parties involved, was encouraging....  The establishment of an interim government signals a step forward in the country's bumpy reconstruction process, although it will have a nominal rather than decisive role....  Tough security questions, such as whether Iraqi forces can refuse to join a U.S. military operation, are left for future negotiations.  It's still unclear whether or not the Iraqis can really master their own fate at their own will after the new government is sworn in....  U.S. President George W. Bush hailed the formation of the interim government as 'one step closer' to democracy.  Bush also said the United States had not involved itself in the creation of the new government and that the government was being given full sovereignty.  Maybe no one in the world but Bush himself believed his words.  The suicide attack that took place at the 'Green Zone' compound where the U.S.-led administration in Baghdad is based almost at the same moment the interim government was nominating candidates could give Bush the best answer....  Besides killing or injuring at least 25 people, the incident has also given a strong hint that the new Iraqi interim government will face an uphill struggle.”


"Allawi Becomes President With Aid Of U.S."


Tu Longde commented in the China Radio International sponsored newspaper World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (6/2):  “The burden on Allawi's shoulders is heavy.  He must as soon as possible lead the Iraqi Interim Government to make progress in Iraq’s reconstruction and thus earn people’s support.  The Allawi government also needs to fight against Iraqi extremists, because if there is no security, Iraq’s reconstruction cannot be achieved.  More important, Allawi must be guard the subtleties of his attitude in his relations with the U.S.  He not only needs to protect Iraq’s dignity and sovereignty, showing that he is not a U.S. puppet, but also must avoid offending the U.S.  Analysts believe that the process whereby the U.S. selected Allawi as premier fully exposed U.S. ambitions to dominate Iraq’s affairs after the handover.  The UN envoy was completely ignored during the whole process.  The U.S. manner of ignoring the opinion of the international community opinion has seriously restricted the UN’s role in future Iraqi affairs, and the legitimacy of the new Iraqi power in the eyes of the international community, and thus affected the process of Iraq’s reintegration into the international community.”


JAPAN:  "Local Support Critical"


Liberal Mainichi editorialized (6/3):  "Judging from the mosaic nature of Iraq where ethnic, tribal and religious interests are intertwined, it is impossible to select a cabinet that satisfies all the Iraqi public.  However, the new Iraqi government is a step in the right direction because its cabinet lineup reflects the opinion of the Iraqi people to a certain degree and can thus be called realistic....  More details must be worked out on such issues as the period of deployment for the multinational security force, the specific powers of the provisional government, the free elections planned for January next year and the return of UN personnel to Iraq.  The U.S. and Britain are both heavily responsible for these tasks.  The U.S. must first show that it is sincerely ready to mend its strained ties with certain European nations and the UN."


"Limited Optimism Over The Future Of Iraq"


Business daily Nihon Keizai stated (6/3):  "The issue facing the new Iraqi government is how the people of Iraq view it.  If it is considered a puppet regime controlled by the U.S. military, the transfer of power will be meaningless.  The government needs to clarify its position on the multinational force led by the U.S. military....  The new government is not likely to call for the withdrawal of the U.S. military, which will continue to fulfill a central role in maintaining domestic security.  But, a mechanism must be devised by which the Iraqi public can confidently claim that it is in charge of governing the nation."


"Iraqi Way Is The Only Way"


The liberal Asahi opined (6/2):  "The restoration of domestic security will be the most pressing agenda for Iraq after the planned end of occupation by U.S. and British forces.  Assaults by armed guerrillas and terrorist attacks are unlikely to cease even after the inauguration of a new Iraqi government.  But the swift transfer of authority to the transitional government will probably help reduce armed resistance.  The interim government is not a lasting one and does not reflect the democratic will of the Iraqi people.  But Iraqis must achieve independence by themselves.  It is essential that they take the initiative to carry out elections, which will be the main task of the new government.  Their eagerness to hold elections will become the foundation of reconstruction efforts."


"Governing Council Overrides UN Selection Of Interim Government"


The Cairo correspondent for top circulation, moderate-conservative Yomiuri observed (6/2):  "The cabinet lineup of the new Iraq government reflects the opinion of the recently disbanded Iraqi Governing Council.  UN special representative Lakhdar Brahimi has not succeeded in his attempt to form an interim government of experts familiar with elections and day-to-day government operations.  The UN-orchestrated power transition process is no more than a name....  The people of Iraq and religious leaders including Grand Ayatollah Sistani and Sunni mullahs are unlikely to positively view the Governing Council's last-minute attempt to maintain influence.  The interim government will try to secure its legitimacy by proving that it has full sovereign authority."


"Governing Council Changes Its Name To Survive"


Liberal Mainichi Cairo correspondent wrote (6/2):  "The Governing Council has demonstrated its strong sway over the formation of the new Iraqi government, whose cabinet lineup is far from what the UN had originally hoped to create.  The lineup reflects the results of a fierce power struggle between the CPA, the UN and governing council members.  Because the majority of Iraqi people have been negative about the governing council, it is unlikely that the new government can ensure security and restore peoples' lives to normal."


INDONESIA:  "Transitional Government In Iraq Established"


Muslim-intellectual Republika held (6/4):  “It is undeniable that the establishment of the transitional government in Iraq was not separated from the blessing and even major role of President Bush’s administration.  Without such blessing, all the mediation efforts by Lakhdar Brahimi would not have been successful.  It should also be admitted that the grip of the U.S. colonizer in Iraq is still very strong.  Not a single power, not even the UN, could counter the greed of President Bush....  Given these facts, it is understandable that [the] U.S. has played a major role in the election of President Ghazi al Yawar and Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and their cabinet ministers.  But it is here [that] the hardest challenges for the Al-Yawar-Allawi duet lie.  Resistance by the Iraqi fighters against the U.S. and its allies intensified precisely after Saddam Hussein was toppled....  Therefore, if Al Yawar [and] Allawi are to succeed in their administration, their primary and first priority should be finding out how to make them accepted by the multiethnic Iraqi society:  the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds.  One of the ways that people like must be how for the transitional government to do this would be to can drive out the colonizing troops from the U.S. and its allies as soon as possible from the land of the Iraqis.  Otherwise, they could be accused of being the lackeys of the colonizers and become the enemy of their own people.”


MALAYSIA:  "U.S. Must Agree To UN Role"


Government-influenced Malay-language Berita Harian remarked (6/3):  “If the Bush administration is truly determined that the UN should have a meaningful political role in Iraq, then there are a number of areas in which UN members other than the U.S. could do some interesting bargaining with Washington.  The core issue the two sides will negotiate is the possible mandate of a longer UN post-election presence in Iraq.  But will Washington be ready to give the UN the lead political role in Iraq that many of non-U.S. members of the UN Security Council seek?  Can Mr. Bush accept that the U.S. troops in Iraq might, for some period of time, be taking orders from a UN political leadership that would in one of the most hopeful of scenarios be helping the Iraqis to organize their first democratic election?  The Bush administration claimed that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States.  His regime is destroyed.  The threat, therefore, is eliminated.  The Bush administration should remain focused on ending the military occupation and on turning the government of Iraq over to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible.  History cannot be undone, but it does not mean that what happened in the past can become naturally justified with the passage of time.  What the United States should do now is to let the UN play the central role in reconstruction and democratization of Iraq.”


NEW ZEALAND:  "Progress In Iraq"


The Otago Daily Times remarked (Internet version, 6/4):  "Iraq's interim government...mixes the main ethnic and religious groups and better represents a people who are more than anxious to assert their own authority.  It replaces the much criticized United States-appointed governing council....  Months of effort went into choosing the new government, and for once the United States did not get its own way....  Many of the new faces are American-educated exiles who may be expected to endorse President George W. Bush's policies in the Middle East, but the new president and prime minister have been vocal critics....  Clearly, the goal of independent unification is gaining ascendancy.  Still troubling, however, is exactly what the Bush administration intends to do at the end of the month.  The administration earlier talked about transferring 'limited sovereignty' to the interim government, and more recently agreed to 'full sovereignty', but it is by no means clear what this will mean....  Whereas the governing council failed to gain legitimacy in the eyes of most Iraqis, there are better prospects for the interim government, although its challenges remain daunting.  Iraq is by no means stabilized, and the population is skeptical about whether its new leaders are America's puppets.  Immediate attention is focusing on the wording of a Security Council resolution setting out the terms of the hand-over....  For Iraqis, who must daily face violence, crime, power and water shortages and joblessness, insurgency--not internal politics--continues to define their lives....   Progress towards peace in Iraq will depend now on how skillfully the new leaders gain the confidence of the majority.  Their chief task is to prepare the country for the January elections and to ensure these are fully representative of a nation almost overflowing with conflicting groups.  That will be no easy task, but it will be made easier if the Bush administration openly defers governance to the temporary rulers of the new Iraq."




INDIA:  "Hope Afloat"


The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer editorialized (6/7):  "For the first time in months, a glimmer of light was visible last week at the end of Iraq's long tunnel of despair and discord.  While violence and deaths continued, four developments suggested that a new chapter has begun in the country's troubled affairs.  The first was the formation of a 36-member Interim Government which is meant to be a critical step forward along Iraq's path towards restoration of full sovereignty, and democracy....  The Americans, who played a determining role in cobbling the government together, largely sidelining the United Nations' highly respected envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, have reason to be happy over even this partial endorsement....  While the new president, Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawar, a Sunni, is not a favorite of the Americans, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's links with the latter are well-known, as are those of a majority of those in the Interim Government....  Much would, of course, depend on how the Interim Government functions, the nature of its powers and its success in establishing peace.  While the U.S. understandably wants to retain operational control over its forces in Iraq, it would be wise to exercise it under the UN's umbrella, which again will be forthcoming if the set-up it envisages has the support of important UN Security Council members like France and Russia."


"Baghdad Is Churning"


The nationalist Hindustan Times editorialized (6/3):  "As the June 30 deadline for the hand-over of power in Iraq draws closer, the U.S. and its allies have a lot to worry about.  The least of their concerns would be to ensure a smooth transition from the Coalition Provisional Authority to a new interim Iraqi government....  Washington attaches great importance to sticking to the June-end schedule, as is clear from the way the Americans didn't press for their presidential candidate, Adnan Pachachi....  Washington and London have a highwire act to follow as they try to keep the lid on the violence that takes its toll on coalition forces almost daily, and moving a new resolution on Iraq in the UN Security Council....  The haste of the U.S. and Britain to push the resolution probably has much to do with getting the crucial mandate passed before this weekend.  The Bush and Blair administrations would have rather maintained full control over Iraqi security forces.  But the fresh draft may leave them much less room to call the shots in the new Baghdad government....  Many questions like [sovereignty] may be left hanging if and when the occupation of Iraq formally ends 'on schedule'."


"Ready To Cut And Run"


The pro-economic-reforms Business Standard asserted (6/3):  "This is an election year in the U.S. and Bush is loathe to see the body count of U.S. soldiers mount much further.  So he is sidling away from the accident he caused.  But the U.S. Army will remain in Iraq.  This has led the newly appointed president to demand 'full sovereignty', which means control of U.S. troops.  Nonsense, says the Bush administration.  From July 1, Iraq will be fully sovereign, even though our army will remain there and not be under Iraqi control in any meaningful way.  It will be recalled that Indian princely states during the Raj enjoyed exactly this sort of sovereignty....  Could Iraq be heading for massive bloodshed, after the U.S. hands over power?  This question is intended not as an invitation to the U.S. to stay on in a thoroughly alienated Iraq but to point to the dangers ahead.  Iraq has a complex history, a population divided messily by religious and ethnic fault lines, a tricky neighborhood and a political history that is of no help if the objective is democracy.  Saddam Hussein's regime, however evil, kept a lid on things through centralized brutality.  What will now replace it?  The answers are unclear, but as Bush cuts his risks, those for the Iraqis get higher."


PAKISTAN:  "Iraq Awaits June 30"


The centrist national English-language News commented (6/5):  "It is difficult to see by when the Iraqis will be capable of defending themselves as the massive overall U.S. control does not show how well the government is functioning on its own.  It will be unfortunate if Iraq is converted into another Afghanistan with the U.S. managing everything, even its much-prized sizeable oil reserves."


"Iraq's Interim Government Should Be Supported"


The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times contended (6/5):  "We beg to differ.  The U.S. misadventure in Iraq has predictably gone horribly wrong and there can be no two opinions on that.  However, since the deed is done, it would be wrong to rejoice over the American failure to turn Iraq around, not least because the biggest loser of American failure would not be America itself but Iraq and the Iraqis....  If Iraq does go through a democratic vote, the Shia leaders, religious and secular, will obviously win more seats on the back of ethnic dominance itself.  That is okay; what is not desirable is that the system should throw up a Shia theocracy along the lines of Iran."


"Interim Government In Iraq"


Karachi-based, right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Urdu-language Jasarat opined (6/3):  "An interim government has replaced the Governing Council in Iraq, in which the president is from the Sunni sect and the prime minister is from the Shia community.  Apparently an attempt has been made to create balance, but the fact is that it is all so superficial, as both are a product of the Christian forces."


BANGLADESH:  "New Interim Government In Iraq"


Former Secretary and Ambassador Muslehuddin Ahmed opined in independent English- language Daily Star (6/6):  "The handpicked members of the Interim Governing Council will virtually have no power even if mentioned in the UN resolution when it comes to U.S. interests.  The realities on the ground will determine events.  However, Ali Sistani, chief Shia cleric has given cautious welcome to the Interim Government.  This would help.  Indeed, as the situation stands, Iraqis should accept the latest UN resolution, which is being negotiated as an interim arrangement and start working for electing a representative government early next year."


IRAN:  "Odd Process Of Selecting New Iraqi President"


Hassan Hanizadeh opined in the conservative, English-language Tehran Times (Internet version, 6/8):  "The manner in which Iraq's president was selected is a new phenomenon in the modern world, since a president is normally elected by the people rather than selected by a few individuals.  The 46-year-old al-Yawar...belongs to the al-Shimmari tribe, which consists of around one million Arab Sunni Iraqis, with members of the tribe residing in Mosul and northern Iraq, and also in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.  It seems that regional and Arab concerns influenced the selection of the new president.  Indeed, many political analysts have compared the procedure used to select the new Iraqi president to a game of musical chairs.  Although the post of president is a ceremonial and non-executive position according to Iraq's interim constitution, t seems that al-Yawar's appointment is meant to sideline the majority of the Iraqi nation....  Although [Prime Minister] Allawi is from the Shia majority, he is secular and is allied with the United States and the West.  Both Al-Yawar and Allawi face numerous challenges in their new posts.  The president and prime minister must first establish security in Iraq and combat foreign terrorist groups that have entered the country.  Also, Iraq's economy must be overhauled and a specific timetable must be set for the withdrawal of occupying forces.  The Iraqi president must also properly arrange his ties with Iraq's Shia majority, appease the Shia clerics, and prevent clannism.  However,at the end of the day, it is clear that the appointments of al-Yawar and Allawi are part of a plot to gradually sideline Iraq's Shia community, assign key posts to members of the minority Sunni community, and return Baathist elements of the former regime to power."


"Iraq's Interim Rule"


Amin Sabooni commented in pro-Khatami English-language Iran Daily (Internet version, 6/2):  "Iraq's first post-Saddam government took office...after extended acrimony between the now-disbanded provisional Governing Council and the U.S.-led coalition authorities....  Political pundits and regional observers, no matter what schools of thought they belong to, are united on one key issue.  The sovereignty project, which Bush II and his neocon lobby are trying so hard to sell to world public opinion, is very close to nonsense, to say the least.  At best, the so-called handover of power will be occupation under a different name until the invading armies are out.  At worst, a broken and paralyzed Iraq will be dumped on its oppressed people to set it on its own feet....  Selecting the future interim government was largely the function of the occupying power and the corrupted [UN]....  The world is waiting and watching to see when and how Iraq returns to the world political map as an honorable, responsible and respected player....  How Iraq handles its affairs in the coming months will be of crucial importance both for the region and beyond.  For this and a host of other reasons, the world community, Iraq's neighbors in particular, have a big responsibility to bring stability to that country.  Looking the other way will be a luxury the world simply cannot afford."




CANADA:  "Iraqi Government A Step Closer"


The left-of-center Regina Leader Post commented (6/4):  "While U.S. President George W. Bush promised 'full sovereignty' June 30, the wrangling continues over just how much power the new government will have.  Some Iraqis, including the country's most influential Shia Muslim cleric, want the interim government to assume full control June 30--including power over the occupying forces....  The problem for the interim government is that as long as U.S.-led foreign troops remain in Iraq, it will be considered a puppet of the Americans.  However, lacking a viable Iraqi army and security force of its own, the interim government needs foreign troops to maintain order at least until an elected government takes power in 2006....  The West must hope the interim government will be viewed by a majority of Iraqis as a major step towards sovereignty, allowing for eventual withdrawal of all foreign forces.  It won't be easy.  Extremists want to bomb and maim their way to a dictatorship that will be just as brutal and repressive as Saddam Hussein's was.  With democracy within reach, we hope Iraqis give the interim government a chance."


"Progress In Iraq"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press observed (6/4):  "It will be at least 18 months until general elections can be held in Iraq and that country can even hope to have a government that is democratic and representative of its people.  In the meantime, there is the interim government that was designed by United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and which took office this week.  The new government may appear to be nothing much in the way of an improvement over the former Governing Council, and many faces familiar from the GC look out from its office windows.  But, in fact, it is much more than nothing, a small but important step along the road to Iraqi self-government and those distant elections....  The interim government appears to enjoy little support among the Iraqi people, although it may fare better in that regard than the previous Governing Council did; its makeup is disproportional to the country's population--too many Kurds, not enough Shiites.  Whatever its weaknesses, however, the fact that it is in place means that the scheduled handover of the administration from the U.S. to Iraqis on June 30 can proceed on schedule.  In the weeks to come, Mr. al-Yawar and Mr. Allawi will need to win the confidence of the Iraqi people.  They also must negotiate with the U.S. and the UN a portioning of the authority over the coalition forces that Iraq still needs to maintain order.  This is an issue that must be resolved if the UN is to assume a greater role in Iraq....  Neither of these tasks will be easy; both may be unachievable; but they are certainly connected.  An Iraqi government perceived to be in control of the country will earn more support from Iraqis themselves and from the United Nations than one that exists in the U.S. shadow.  American policy will need to take that into account."


"Hopeful Signs In Iraq"


The leading Globe and Mail commented (6/3):  "At last, some good news from Iraq.  The first bit of good news came from Baghdad, where an interim Iraqi government was introduced....  The second came from New York, where a new UN resolution on Iraq was presented.  Both are hopeful signs that the transition from foreign occupation to Iraqi rule is finally under way..... The point of the new UN resolution is to put the seal of international approval on this transition plan....  Of course, all of these fine plans could go up in smoke if insurgents and terrorists keep sowing chaos on the streets of Iraq.  There are other problems, too.  No one knows whether the new government, assembled through painstaking negotiation, will hold together or win the allegiance of the Iraqi people.  As for the UN resolution, Russia, Germany, France and China are still not satisfied with the new draft, saying, among other things, that the relationship between the new government and the multinational force is unclear.  Nothing has been easy in postwar Iraq, and the next few months are full of peril.  But Iraqis are beginning to take control of their own destiny, and that at least is promising."


"Toward A Sovereign Iraq"


The conservative National Post editorialized (6/3):  "In an ideal world, Iraq's new caretaker government would be composed entirely of Western allies versed in the tenets of Jeffersonian democracy.  But that was never going to happen.  Instead, the 33-member body, named Tuesday, is a mixed bag, counting among the disparate ideologies, religions and ethnic backgrounds of its membership Islamists, some with links to Iran.  Even so, its formation is a feat in the constitutional development of Iraq.  Despite the doomsday predictions of some critics of the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein, a sovereign government will administer the country in less than a month's time.  A new national assembly of 100 Iraqis will shortly be formed to act as a check against the new government, empowered to veto legislation.  With any luck, Iraq will hold general elections at the end of 2005....  Mr. al-Yawar's appointment should put to rest any notion that this new government might be staffed by American puppets....  The Iraqis prevailed, demonstrating the extent to which the Americans have been prepared to allow Iraqis to decide their own future.  While many issues remain unresolved--not least the role of American troops after the June 30 handover and the question of who, ultimately, is to control of those forces and security--this is clearly the right time for Iraqis to take charge of their future.  While the makeup of the new government is far from ideal, it is one that the Iraqi people likely will accept as legitimate.  After much bloodshed, June 30 will mark the dawn of a new era."


"Iraqis Chose Their Own Leaders, And That's The Way It Should Be"


Political commentator Lorne Gunter wrote in the left-of-center Edmonton Journal (6/2):  "So the Iraqi Governing Council has gone ahead and picked its own interim president and prime minister, choosing candidates opposed by both the Bush administration and the United Nations.  Good for them.  Obstinacy is the first step to self-determination and independence.  A people cannot be led by the nose to self-rule.  They must grasp it for themselves, demand it, writhe and chafe against their tethers to acquire it, if necessary.  And the IGC seems to have done just that....  What is crucial is that the IGC made these appointments themselves.  For better or worse, they made them independent of the Americans' Coalition Provisional Authority and over the objections of UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi....  Perhaps the council has, with its selections, made things worse for Iraq and Iraqis....  But the new president, prime minister and cabinet are Iraqis, appointed by Iraqis.  If they fail, it will be Iraqis who have failed their own people, rather than occupiers who have.  Their failure may be no less harmful to ordinary Iraqis, but at least theirs will be a failure with sovereignty, which is preferable, by far, to an imposed failure by foreign governors.  It is infinitely better to be governed poorly by one's own neighbors than directed well by alien administrators....  The Americans and UN had wanted the council to stick around until the formal transfer of power from the Coalition Provisional Authority on June 30.  But that would have made the new government redundant until then.  Instead the council dissolved itself early, thereby forcing both the CPA and the UN Security Council to deal directly with the pluralist, secular, ethnically and religiously balanced, federalist interim government as the sole legitimate representative of the Iraqi people.  Good for them."


"Bush Administration, Iraqis Deserve Applause"


David Warren observed in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (6/2):  "Yesterday, in defiance of all pessimists, Iraq resumed its life as a sovereign country, in a manner no one outside Iraq has the right to gainsay....  The formal transfer of power from Paul Bremer's occupation authority to the new Iraqi government waits till the end of the month....  No one else will say this, so I will.  The Bush administration has handled the transfer of power in Iraq more cleverly than anyone expected, including me....  Will this new Iraq be plausibly democratic?  Too soon to count chickens.  An Iraqi government that includes all non-violent factions, with or without elections, is already better than that for which we could have plausibly hoped.  Elections on top of this will be gravy.  That self-dissolved Governing Council seems to have served its purpose as a public incubator of a new Iraqi political class, wonderfully unlike those in adjoining countries.  The Americans have, moreover, done a superb job of playing politics, intra-Iraqis:  a job of horse-trading beyond anything achieved by British imperialists in the past....  Real praise ought to be showered on the Iraqis.  This new political class--consisting of returned Sunni and Shia exiles, Kurds, tribal lords, Shia clerical henchmen, and the odd, semi-halal, Baath party 'technocrat,' has proved capable of forming workable coalitions whenever something has had to be achieved....  My philosophy is, we do not know what tomorrow will bring, so let us celebrate today.  Iraqis, Americans, allies and all men of goodwill have reason to be happy about what has been accomplished in Iraq.  Pray, pray, it continues."


ARGENTINA:  "Luck Of New Government Will Depend On Military Resolution"


Gustavo Sierra, international columnist for leading Clarin, wrote (6/2):  "The appointment of a new Iraqi president was accompanied by a series of criminal assaults.  Bombs reminded of the framework in which Ghazi al-Yawar will take over.  Iraq continues being a country in war, and this caretaker government, which will take over June 30, should resolve the military problem before undertaking any other important initiative.  And, for this purpose, it will absolutely depend on the U.S. occupation army....  U.S. President Bush hailed al-Yawar and emphatically assured he had nothing to do with al-Yawar's appointment.  What remains to be seen is what the Iraqi people's reaction will be--whether it will agree with Bush's perception or whether, as 'a priori' appeared, al-Yawar will be perceived as a mere 'puppet' of Washington."


MEXICO:  "Iyad Allawi:  Transition Puppet Government"


Gabriel Moyssen commented in the business-oriented El Financiero (6/1):  "The Iraqi Governing Council, itself a caricature of authority selected by 'viceroy' Bremer, has been staging a sorry squabble with Washington and the UN over who gets to be the transition government that will receive limited sovereignty from U.S. hands on June 30....  In the end, no one took into account what Kofi Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard dismissed as 'Iraqi street talk,' because Allawi is, as Kurdish Council Member Mahmud Othman said, 'the American candidate; they brought him to us and we approved him.'...  Without giving up after the dismal failure of the 1996 coup against Hussein, Allawi spent a small fortune lobbying political and media circles in the U.S., which now is paying off the expected dividends."


GUATEMALA:  "Policy Or Campaign Maneuver?"


Columnist Rodrigo Castillo del Carmen opined in leading daily Prensa Libre (6/4):  "Ghazi Ayil Yawar is the new president of Iraq.  The Coalition Provisional Authority and the governing council democratically elected him with the blessing of UN representative, Lakhdar Brahimi.  President Bush has put a friend in power and he will transfer the responsibility of the political situation [in Iraq] to the United Nations.... The new Iraqi president will have apparent power but he will not be able to make any changes without the United States' approval."


TRINIDAD & TOBAGO:  "Seeking A Better Day For Iraq"


The tabloid-style Express Newspaper commented (6/4):  "As the deadline nears for the formal hand-over of power to a new interim government in Iraq on June 30, there is little sign that conflict in that country will be reduced thereafter....  The dilemma for the United States, as well as Britain, is that the situation on the ground in Iraq remains highly volatile.  Even the members of the new Iraqi government can consider themselves under threat from those insurgents who continue to see them as mere puppets of the Americans.  What is clear is the American miscalculation from the start that Iraqis would be so glad to get rid of Saddam Hussein, they would welcome foreign troops on their soil.  That has proven to be an expensive and bloody fallacy to date-with every likelihood of the situation getting even worse in the near future.  No one--including, we are certain, key Iraqi political leaders--wants to see Iraq descend into civil war and chaos.  But to avoid that will take a very measured response from the United Nations which, hopefully, will get it right this time around."


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