June 8, 2004
IRAQ'S NEW INTERIM GOVERNMENT FACES AN UPHILL
** Many hail new government
as a "hopeful sign" but others denounce it as a U.S.
** 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
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 requirement...is 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
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
BRITAIN: "Iraq Has A New
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
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.”
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
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
"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."
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
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
"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
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.”
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."
"Americans Are In Trouble In Iraq"
Paul De Bruyn remarked in conservative
Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen
(6/3): "The future of
Iraq...is 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
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
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:
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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:
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."
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 see...to help democracy in
Iraq.... It has become easier for us to
understand the statements that were delivered...by 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.”
"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
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
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
"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
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
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
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
"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
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."
"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.”
"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
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."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
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
"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
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."
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
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
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
"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
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."
Allawi: Transition Puppet
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
GUATEMALA: "Policy Or
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