June 30, 2004
IRAQ SOVEREIGNTY TRANSFER: 'NOW THE HARD WORK BEGINS'
Optimists term the handover "the first step" towards Iraqis'
controlling their destiny.
Detractors scorn the "hushed-up" transfer and assert the U.S.
will remain "in charge."
Allawi's government now faces the "grueling and dangerous
work" of building democracy.
'Good reasons to be optimistic'-- The transfer of sovereignty in Iraq was
greeted positively by a number of observers.
The handover presented "an extraordinary opportunity" and gave
"hope of a new Iraq emerging from the present chaos." The establishment of a "legitimate,
sovereign government, with broad popular backing and firm timetable"
towards elections "is a huge step forward," according to Canada's
leading Globe and Mail. Jordan's
influential Al-Dustour termed the handover "a step in the right
direction," adding that it "cannot be belittled by the fact"
that occupation troops remain in Iraq.
The choice for Iraqis now, said an Australian writer, is how they will
"decide their future: through bombs
and bullets, or via the ballot box."
Iraqi papers urged readers to support the "fledging
government" so Iraqis can "enjoy the merits of peace, security and
stability in this long-suffering country."
'U.S. will continue to pull the strings'-- Skeptics asserted that the Coalition had
transferred "not power but chaos," dismissing the
"so-called" transfer of sovereignty as a Bush administration
"trick" since the new government is "under full American
control." The "secretive way in
which formal sovereignty was transferred...starkly reveal the difficulties
faced by the incoming interim government," said the center-left Irish
Times. Russia's nationalist
opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya scoffed that "the Americans have
become a laughing stock" after turning power over "in a hurry"
to their "puppets." Other
critics charged the "unceremonious" handover revealed that the U.S.
is "totally helpless and incapable of controlling the
situation." A number of writers
agreed with a Belgian outlet's charge that the timetable of the transfer of
power was "first and foremost motivated by American domestic political
Allawi's 'very difficult' task-- Whatever their view of how much sovereignty
was or wasn't transferred to Iraq's interim government, analysts agreed that PM
Allawi's government faces "massive and daunting challenges." Paraphrasing Saddam Hussein, a conservative
British paper said "we may now see 'the mother of all insurgencies'
launched" in a bid to prevent elections.
"Paul Bremer leaves behind a...land of destruction where power is
up for grabs," noted Morocco's center-left Al Bayane, adding that
"nobody can predict what the situation will be" following the
handover. Allawi and his ministers
"have months, not years, to rebuild their broken house, or risk its
collapse." To establish his
legitimacy, he must demonstrate that he is not a "henchman" of the
U.S. But he must also show "to what
extent sovereignty really has been transferred and what difference it will
make" to Iraqis, first by restoring "order and calm" but also by
tackling their "daily problems" such as lack of electricity and high
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
105 reports from 48 countries June 29-30, 2004.
Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent
BRITAIN: "Hoping And
Cutting And Running In Baghdad”
Simon Jenkins mused in the conservative Times (6/30): "It insults the daily experience
of Iraqis to call their anarchy freedom and their insecurity democracy...but
then Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair have made sound bites the enemy in reality....
Small wonder that Mr. Bush and Blair declined to fly just two hours south to
congratulate him on his new job. It
might have looked like another goodbye.”
The conservative Times commented (6/29): "That this is a genuine and not phantom
transfer of power will help the government.
If security is improved, the prospects of democratic elections and
economic advance will become not just brighter but bright.... It is, obviously, a massive and daunting agenda. It is also, for Iraq, an extraordinary
"Making The Legacy Work"
The left-of-center Guardian opined (6/29): "It seems to have quenched any residual
temptation to triumphalism or prolonged putting out of flags. Yet the timing of the transfer is not the
real issue; what matters for millions of Iraqis is to what extent sovereignty
really has been transferred and what difference it will make to their
"The Only Option In Iraq Is A Return To Barbarism"
The conservative Daily Telegraph had this to say
(6/29): "To paraphrase Saddam
Hussein, we may now see 'the mother of all insurgencies' launched in a bid to
prevent the holding of elections in six months' time.... Allawi has vowed to take the fight to the
terrorists, imposing curfews if required, and to oversee a considerable
expansion of Iraqi security forces. In
this, he deserves the full support of Western democracies."
"The Violence Will Only End In Iraq If There Is A Genuine
Transfer Of Sovereignty"
The center-left Independent contended (6/29): "Yesterday's perfunctory handover, two
days early and distinctly subdued, was the most appropriate conclusion on
offer. This was not an occasion for boasting
or public rejoicing.... Inability to
bequeath safety to Iraq is the biggest and most shaming failure of the
occupation.... The one consolation is
the impatience of Iraq's new ministers to start work--proof that, against all
odds, hope lives on."
The right-of-center tabloid Sun editorialized (6/29): "The Iraqi gangsters and the al-Qaida
terrorists can no longer claim to fight for the Iraqi people. They are fighting AGAINST them.... Tony Blair and George Bush did a great job in
ousting Saddam and an even better job in securing Iraq's future."
"No Cause For Celebrations"
The conservative tabloid Daily Mail took this view
(6/29): "Nothing symbolizes more
brutally Britain and America's disastrous venture into Iraq than the way they
are handing over sovereignty.... Had the
occupation been a success, there would have been meticulously orchestrated
wall-to-wall media coverage--just as there was for last year's invasion and
speedy military victory. Of course, the
sad truth is that there is nothing to celebrate. The statistics speak for themselves.... Politically, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are
paying a heavy price, while their countries have been dealt immeasurable damage
by allegations of torture."
FRANCE: "The Danger
Jean de Belot commented in right-of-center Le Figaro
(6/29): “The only question that remains
unanswered in Iraq is whether after a year of occupation the country will sink
into chaos, adopt an Islamic regime or advance towards the democracy which
President Bush wanted to set as an example for the Middle East. Uncertainty hovers and the coalition forces
need to find a delicate balance between maintaining security and granting
increasing power to the Iraqi government....
This balance will determine the outcome of the 2005 elections. It will also determine whether the day-to-day
lives of the Iraqis will improve.... The
balance will also determine Washington’s future military involvement.... President Bush can boast of having kept his
word.... By advancing the transfer of
sovereignty by two days he hopes to have defused the terrorists’ plans. He has also made the date coincide with the
NATO summit, and tried to make NATO an integral part of Iraq’s new phase. He has succeeded in part, less than he hoped,
but a process has begun. For those who
want to believe, what has been achieved is plenty. For those who wish to doubt, it is still too
little.... The only doubt which darkens
the picture is that the complex ethnic and religious composition of the Iraqi
society remains unchanged. The
watchfulness and influence play of Iraq’s neighbors has increased. And terrorism has not abated. And so progress in Iraq is mainly a matter of
semantics. The risks remain intact. Democracy has not prevailed, certainly not
the democracy that Washington hoped for.
One can understand why President Bush wants to involve his allies in
this new phase. For the first time, and
for a majority of Americans, when it comes to Iraq, Jacques Chirac was right.”
Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation
(6/29): “We know what the transfer of
sovereignty is not: it is not the end of
Iraq’s occupation or the end of the violence it has brought on. To imagine it is so would only lead us to be
disappointed. One can speak of
sovereignty only as far as semantics.
For the rest, Allawi’s government has no power.... The future will tell whether this limited
sovereignty can be more than a smokescreen to be torn by Iraq’s ‘resistance,’
which will try to convince the Iraqis that they are being governed by
‘collaborators’ without power. Bush is
betting that that his conjuring trick will convince the American voters that
the U.S. is on the way out of Iraq....
Allawi is also betting he will have an adequate margin of maneuver to
negotiate with the former Baath members and to isolate the Islamic
extremists.... One can seriously have
doubts about the success of this double wager.
Still we cannot bet on failure from the outset.”
"Achievements And Uncertainties"
Bruno Frappat opined in Catholic La Croix (6/29): “It would be naïve to think everything has
been resolved. Achievements have been
reached in this war; uncertainties about this 'sovereignty' remain. Among the achievements, which only the most
basic anti-Americanism could deny, is the fact that one of the most cruel
dictatorships has been abolished.... But
another truth, which only naïve pro-Americanism can deny, is that lies and
manipulation...have guided this war and that ideology has led the West in a
dubious crusade.... We also have our
pick of uncertainties. Questions and
anxieties vie for front billing in the new Iraqi phase: who in Iraq will be able to stop
terrorism? Who will have the ability to
judge Saddam Hussein? How will Bush’s
America go from being the occupier to the protector? What degree of democratic maturity can we
expect from the Iraqi people after being kept in the Middle Ages for so
long? What level of authority can the
new government have, when that authority is transferred by the victors of a
lost war? Will America’s economic
interests be able to stay away from temptation and from the key to Iraq’s oil
coffers? All of these concerns do not
take away from a page of history which needed to be written.”
Wolfgang Guenter Lerch commented in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (6/29): "The current
situation in the country can be best described with the word 'unclear'. Freedom of the press and the existence of
numerous parties are two positive developments.
There is normal life in Baghdad and many other towns, not least because
the supply with essentials seems to be secured.
In the north of Iraq Kurds enjoy autonomy, long threatened by
Saddam. Life is also thriving beyond the
two traditional Kurdish parties. The
long-oppressed Turkmen minority is also making a move. These successes are overshadowed by the
ongoing terror. The American and British
war resulted in many deadly attacks day after day.... The terrorists in Iraq are Iraqis and Arabs
or Muslims from other countries. They
have turned Iraq into a jihad battlefield, like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan,
fighting against foreigners and those who grant foreigners influence. Iraq has not seen this before.... It is still too much for the Iraqi government
to create security. As a result foreign
troops will remain in the country for some time. But this is the cause for resistance of all
kind. Allawi must make sure that he
improves his image compared to Americans.
He must make clear to those who reject him that he is not an American
henchman. His first announcements show
determination, suitable in the region for a 'strong man'."
"Sovereign In Chaos"
Peter Muench argued in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of
Munich (6/29): "It is not promising
if history is coming through the backdoor, like the power transfer in
Iraq. That the massively secured
ceremony was canceled in fear of attacks is like an admission of failure. The changeover in Baghdad, which the U.S.
brought two days forward, seems like an escape from responsibility. Obviously, not power but chaos was
transferred. Such a changeover is the
logical result of the unplanned U.S. postwar policy.... By toppling the archenemy Saddam, Iraq was to
become a faithful ally of the U.S. This
was politically and economically extremely tempting for Washington, not least
because the U.S. had to find a substitute for the difficult ally Saudi Arabia,
where the kingdom is faltering under the pressure of homegrown Islamists. Baghdad was thought to be an alternative to
Riyadh--for deploying troops in this trouble spot of the world and for securing
oil supplies. This plan is no more, because
the Iraqi government can only survive if it opposes the U.S. Iraqis no longer want to do anything with its
liberators, those who drove out Saddam.
Washington's idea of a model to democratize the Arab world has also
failed. All we see is trouble spots
throughout the country. Iraq is not on
the path to a Western democracy, but is threatened to become the battlefield of
the Islamist International fighting against the West. No one should see a model in that."
"A Great Chance"
Mariam Lau opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin
(6/29): "With yesterday's transfer
of power into the hands of the Iraqi interim government, the coalition put one
over on insurgents, who wanted to use Bremer's last days for a spate of
attacks. Those now throwing bombs will
also throw them officially against the Iraqi people.... Because Iraqis and the international
community support [Allawi's] government, Iraq has a real chance now."
"Not Entirely Sovereign"
Christoph von Marschall editorialized in centrist Der
Tagesspiegel of Berlin (6/29):
"Sovereignty as a result of a secret operation is a contradiction
in terms. The independence of a
government arises mainly out of its capability and the belief in it by its
citizens and the international community.
The government, which is supposed to reign now, is difficult to identify
with. Ministers must shun the public
because of assassination threats. The
real power will be with the U.S. ambassador, who lives like a viceroy in
Baghdad, the largest U.S. embassy in the world, and 140,000 U.S. soldiers. So, was this day of handover a farce? Not a farce, but a promise that must be
kept. This situation could not have been
very different one year after the end of the war. Where should the people and structures for a
real sovereign government have come from--after decades of brutal oppression,
without a tradition of democracy and civil society? An Iraqi army and police, which could protect
the state and its citizens, are still set up.
In this respect, the transfer of sovereignty comes too early, but
psychologically it comes almost too late."
ITALY: "Baghdad: The New Government Is Born Behind Steel-Clad
Bernardo Valli opined in left-leaning,
influential La Repubblica (6/29): “CPA Paul Bremer and Iraqi Prime
Minister Allawi canceled the date but not the appointment. It was a coup de theatre. We reporters felt cheated when in the morning
we learned that everything had already taken place.... In order to avoid the dreaded clash with the
guerrillas and terrorists, Bremer and Allawi decided to hold the ceremony two
days early behind closed doors. They
didn’t even invite the UN. They forgot
about Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary General’s envoy, the godfather of a
reluctant government that he would have wanted different. Brahimi, and the UN along with him, was a
façade that is no longer needed.... In a
civil war...Bremer and Allawi’s move was astute and undoubtedly legitimate. But it confirmed that the new government has
very little room in which to maneuver--so little room that it couldn’t even
celebrate the ceremony of its own installment on the established date. Rather than giving way to enthusiasm, the
event revealed a weakness.... Allawi has
a couple of months at the most to gain some sort of credibility. Those who know him say he has the
capability.... For the time being he
lacks the means.”
"The Hard Part Begins Now"
Maurizio Molinari noted in centrist, influential
La Stampa (6/29): “The transfer
of power in Iraq is a success for the White House but also a high-risk turning
point for the entire Middle East. U.S.
President George Bush can say he ‘kept the promise’ made to the Iraqis.... Less than three years have gone by since the
September 11 attacks and the White House’s strategic response to the terrorist
and fundamentalist challenge has brought about a political result--that was
reinforced by the consensus found at the UN, the G-8, EU and NATO--that Bush is
counting on in order to convince the Americans to re-elect him. But the outcome of the president’s plans for
the Middle East is now tied to the Iraqi interim government’s ability to get to
the elections by surviving the terrorist challenge.”
"A Semblance Of Sovereignty"
Aleksandr Reutov said in business-oriented Kommersant (6/29): "At first sight, it looks like a mere
change of scenery, with hardly an impact on the situation in Iraq. Paul Bremer was so happy to be free of the
responsibility he had to bear this past year, he did not tarry in Baghdad
another day. But before he left, Bremer
told the Iraqi leadership of his president's desire to restore diplomatic
relations with Baghdad. That was a fine
gesture meant to flatter the new Iraqi authorities, emphasizing their full
independence in decision-making. But
then, the decision on restoring the diplomatic relations and permission to open
a U.S. embassy in Baghdad will result in the Iraqis losing their independence
again. Whatever, the semblance of
sovereignty will be maintained by any means.
On the one hand, it will relieve George Bush of responsibility for what
is going on in Iraq.... On the other
hand, analysts believe, it is a chance to take on the resistance in earnest,
and as the Iraqi leadership does so, its actions will look quite natural
compared to the actions of the occupation U.S. and British forces which have
outraged the world public."
"Granting Sovereignty Ahead Of Schedule"
Vyacheslav Tetekin had this to say in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya
Rossiya (6/29): "The Americans
have become a laughing stock. Only
yesterday the world thought that the widely publicized sovereignty transfer was
a day off. The brave Americans decided
to forestall the enemy and turn over power to their puppets in a hurry. A stroke of a genius! But it attests to the United States being
totally helpless and incapable of controlling the situation. Apparently, yesterday U.S. Governor General
Paul Bremer was the happiest man in Iraq, as he handed some papers to its new
'leaders' and scrammed. It is absolutely
clear that neither the 'interim government' nor its U.S. bosses can run the
country. Why would Iraqis recognize a
provisional government appointed by the hated colonial administration? The sovereignty transfer serves to disguise a
continued occupation.... The Americans
are in Iraq to plunder, not rebuild it.
The Americans spend tens of billions of dollars to support their
occupation troops, but they have no money to improve, if only marginally, the
life of ordinary Iraqis.... With the
Iraqi people opposed to the United States and its stooges, turning over
authority to the 'interim government' makes no sense at all. Paul Bremer was right to keep it private,
without champagne--there was nothing to celebrate."
"Americans Cede Baghdad With Honor"
Andrey Terekhov held in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(6/29): "Within an hour Bremer,
whom we used to refer to as a U.S. 'Governor General' or pro-consul, left the
Green Zone in a chopper.... Mr. Bremer,
a representative of the occupiers in Iraq, managed to flee. Flee is exactly what he did as he boarded a
helicopter to get away. A new life, so
it would seem, is opening before Iraq, but, analysts point out, Washington will
remain in control. For that the Americans
have a 135,000-strong army, the world's largest embassy, and special advisors
in Iraqi government departments and agencies.
Besides, the White House can fully rely on the loyalty of the new Iraqi
Senior columnist Ernst Trost asked in
mass-circulation tabloid Kronen Zeitung (6/29): “Was it truly a transfer of power that took
place in Iraq, or was the whole affair merely a display of the old and new
rulers’ powerlessness? How genuine is
sovereignty, when it is received in a hushed-up surprise ceremony?... The way the transfer of power was handled--on
the quiet and behind closed doors, without pomp nor flying of the flag, only
goes to show how abysmal the security situation really is in Baghdad and all
over Iraq.... But even those who opposed
Bush’s war should hope that this democratization experiment turns out to be a
success. A stable Iraq is in all our
"The Power Of Names"
Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer commented
in liberal daily Der Standard (6/29):
“If Iraqis believe in their new government, it may have a
chance.... It may not have been the most
glorious manner to transfer to Iraqis what Washington somewhat loftily calls
'sovereignty,' but it certainly was the wisest way to pull this off. Smart move:
to deprive the rebels of the chance to launch an orgy of violence on the
big day.... Now, Iraq has an 'Iraqi
government,' which means that in future those who do not consider it a puppet
of the U.S. will complain about Allawi’s team when there’s no electricity, no
jobs and no security, almost as in a normal country.... Still, another way of looking at things is
that now, as the country is on the verge of chaos, it is being dumped like a
hot potato in the Iraqis’ lap. The U.S.
has failed in its responsibility as occupying power; it has not managed to
provide law and order, security, or a functioning infrastructure--so America is
washing its hands of the problem....
There’s only a slight chance that the security situation in the country
will change for the better before long....
No one can say for sure how the Iraqi experiment will play out. Still, even the tiniest chance for a new
start is most welcome.”
"No Euphoria, In Baghdad Or In Washington"
Baudouin Loos contended in left-of-center Le
Soir (6/29): "The transfer of
power took place.... But George W. Bush
will not march through the streets of Baghdad, acclaimed by a frenzied
crowd. Although a majority of Iraqis
probably warmly welcomed the fall of Saddam Hussein's dictatorial regime, the
Americans' lack of preparation, incompetence, brutality, and arrogance soon
transformed the liberators into occupants....
Observers agree that the timetable of the formal transfer of power to
the Iraqis was first and foremost motivated by American domestic political
considerations. The occupation of Iraq
and its cost, both economic and human as well as in terms of image, were
beginning to have a serious impact on the upcoming presidential elections. George W. Bush was therefore very eager to
show his voters that Iraqis were taking their future in their hands, in a
process that will supposedly lead to the first genuine democracy in the Arab
world.... In the meantime, the Iraqi
interim government will probably try to increase its independence vis-à-vis the
United State--the only way to acquire its necessary legitimacy. This task will be very difficult for the new
Iraqi prime minister, Iyad Allawi.
Besides, he will have to solve the Iraqis' daily problems, to begin with
assuring the electricity and gas supply and cracking down on the widespread
violence, while at the same time preparing crucial elections. That will be even harder given the fact that
the international community is not very eager to share the Iraqi burden."
Foreign editor Jean Vanempten wrote in financial
daily De Tijd (6/29): "First
of all, Allawi must restore order and calm in Iraq. That won't be easy. He is in a position to declare martial law and
to take measures to decrease the number of attacks, but the Iraqi insurgents
are increasingly better organized and the Iraqi security troops are no match
for their well-organized actions. That
means that the coalition troops will have to help maintain order--which implies
that there may be more deadly victims in their ranks. On top of that the economic recovery of Iraq
is an urgent necessity. Although the
country receives international support and profits from modest oil revenues, it
remains completely unclear where the billions of dollars are disappearing. It is clear that corruption has not
disappeared after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
For the ordinary people, life has become even worse than under the
despised dictator. The interim
government must lay the foundation for more democracy in Iraq and prepare
parliamentary elections. It has six
months to do that. That is not much when
one sees the mess that the occupying forces have left after 14 months."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Rebels and Terror Are Also
Key Risks For the New Regime"
Bretislav Turecek wrote in center-left Pravo
(6/30): "Apart from security
challenges, Allawi’s government will face the necessity to balance the
interests of Arabs and Kurds in the north of Iraq, to carefully watch the
radical religious groups seeking to push the country away from its path to
democracy to one leading to Islamic theocracy guarded by guns, and to ensure
just settlement with prominent members of the Baath regime that had killed
thousands of people. Only [after it has
dealt with this agenda] can it proceed with the desired elections. Experts on the Muslim world discuss how much
the development in Iraq can actually influence the neighboring region, and to
what degree it can make some of the authoritarian regimes realize they’d better
start reform on their 'own will'.
Iranian exile analyst Amir Taheri says that 'despite all jibes made by
the European as well as American liberals,' by toppling the regimes in
Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush succeeded in passing off two major burdens
of the region, representing two major Islamic doctrines - Islamism and
pan-Arabism. 'Bush’s call for
democratization of the Middle East is criticized as American naiveté by the
same people who used to laugh about Ronald Reagan’s belief that communism will
fall,' Taheri says."
"We Must Not Lose In Iraq"
Jan Rybar observed in the mainstream MF Dnes (6/29): "The occupation of Iraq has ended...and
it is difficult to be an optimistic....
It is clear that the coalition soldiers will have to stay on for a long
time as we cannot afford to lose this war.
Firstly, the Americans and their allies, through initiating the war,
have taken on the responsibility to complete the mission. Secondly, the defeat of America as the only
'world policeman' would have unforeseeable consequences for the Western world,
because 'the war against terrorism' is not a hollow term.... The current chaos and mild desperation, as
termed by populist politicians, does not, however, mean that the overall
mission was without meaning and incorrect from the very beginning.... We must keep on reminding ourselves that the
toppling of the man who meant a threat for the region as well as for the world
was worth it.... There is only one
country in this world that has the power to enforce 'global order' and this is
the U.S. ... A weakened or humiliated
U.S.--whether Bush’s or Kerry’s--would only mean a less secure world and that
is the reason why the war in Iraq is even our war and this is the reason why it
must not be lost."
"Problems Won’t End In Iraq"
Milan Slezak remarked in the business-oriented Hospodarske
noviny (6/29): "The early
transfer of power in Iraq was a masterly move, though its importance may fade
as time goes on. It is no coincidence
that the Americans and Brits announced the transfer during the Istanbul NATO
summit, as any unpleasant discussion over the future of Iraq at the summit was
in this way muffled.... The information
[about the handover] must also have caught the Iraqi terrorists unawares as it
is probable that they had timed their strongest assaults for the two days
preceding the transfer of power.
However, is this not only proof of how much these terrorists influence
the situation in Iraq? The new Iraqi
government must show that they are capable of providing a much better security
situation in the country and no magic tricks (such as this one) will help it
any more. The other problematic issue is
the help of the thousands of allied soldiers in Iraq. The interim government cannot do without them
and on the other hand, with them, it will be seen only as a puppet
government. Improving the economic
situation would certainly help as well as the suppression of the rebels. Both are out of sight."
FINLAND: "U.S. Didn’t
Get Rid Of Its Burden In Iraq"
Leading daily, centrist Helsingin Sanomat editorialized
(6/30): "The U.S. has a
problem: at the time when it wants to
keep its distance from the Iraqi administration, it has to watch out that the
situation does not develop into a dictatorship.
Americans don’t have the right to wash their hands of the chaos in Iraq
and leave the country on its own....
NATO, the UN and others should do their best to put an end to the
routinely reported news about bombings, even if it would mean indirect support
to such U.S. right-wing government, which started the war of aggression in the
Liberal Magyar Hirlap editorialized (6/29): “So it would be proper from the Iraqi people
to feel happy: Iraq, and power so, is
theirs since yesterday morning. And they
have a document about it. But the Iraqis
can indeed be happy about only one thing:
the trick made with the two days.
The world has been successfully fooled, as have been fooled also all
those who sought to carry out a really big attempt on the day of the well in
advance announced official deadline of June 30.
It is all right. But the rest is
just so uncertain. From now on Iraqis
will govern Iraq, but their legitimacy is rather questionable. They have some sort of a police and army, but
how strong and how powerful is those forces, nobody knows. The Iraqis can now rightfully have the
impression that President George Bush has cheated on them for the second
time. The first time was when he
launched a war against Iraq without any sort of a peace strategy. The second time is now, when George Bush,
mainly for election considerations, tries to escape the awkward
responsibility.... What happened in Iraq
yesterday is a big thing--in theory. It
ought to have happened one day, anyway.
But not now and not the way it has happened. But once it has happened, it is the duty of
every capable country to take the responsibility and help fix what was done
wrong or was assisted with.”
"An Iraqi Play"
Foreign editor Gabor Stier argued in right-wing conservative Magyar
Nemzet (6/29): “We could even say,
with some malice, that things are going so well in Iraq that the Americans
finally did not wait until the official June 30 deadline.... But how could anybody make fun out of the
recent development, when the situation in Iraq is even worse than it was before
the war. And it is a problem for not
only Iraq and Washington, but for the entire international community. Washington, for its own good reasons, has
turned international relations completely upside down and, while doing so,
pushed the UN, its allies included, entirely aside. Consequently, nobody can remain indifferent
about what is happening in Iraq. We have
now seen the first step of the ‘settlement’ process in Iraq. It is a [stage] 'play' called transfer of
power, in which a 'sovereign' Iraqi power, in other words CIA-trained recruited
emigrants, officially establishes diplomatic relations with the Americans, who
are ‘staying only temporarily in Iraq’.
Only some important questions are missing from the entire settlement
plan. Namely: what do the Iraqis themselves think about this
democracy export? Why would anyone
expect that the attempts of the insurgents will stop, if the newly established
system is something the people of Iraq don’t’ accept?”
IRELAND: "Cause To
Fear, Cause To Hope"
The center-right, populist Irish Independent
editorialized (6/29): “It was a strange
way for the United States to restore sovereignty to Iraq: an unceremonious handover, two days early, to
the interim government and a rapid departure from the country by the American
administrator, Paul Bremer. During his
year in office, Mr. Bremer had not covered himself in glory. One of his last acts was typical of his
failure to earn trust. He signed an
edict giving American and other Western civilian contractors immunity from
Iraqi law, a measure that obviously casts doubt on what independence the
government enjoys. A bigger shadow has
been cast by uncertainty over control of the security forces.... In the real world, the Americans will retain
the right to decide on military actions.
They cannot be denied that right.
But even the pro-American sections of the population can hardly be
expected to like it. However, the most
important question is not the friction caused by their staying, but the danger
of their leaving prematurely.... The
Bush administration must finish what it started.... Yet there is room for optimism. Washington has accepted two key points. There will be a United Nations presence, and
after the elections which must be held within seven months the Shia Muslims
will not be denied the role to which their majority status entitles them. Genuine democracy in Iraq, and a model for
the Middle East? Many have derided the
proposition. They may have to change
"Governing An Unstable Iraq"
The center-left Irish Times concluded (6/29): “The secretive way in which formal
sovereignty was transferred...starkly reveal the difficulties faced by the
incoming interim government.... Iraq is
in a real mess politically, administratively and in security terms.... Fundamental policy mistakes have been
made.... This has created popular
resentment.... Overcoming these problems
will be all the more difficult for the new interim government as a result of
these mistakes. It can ask the 160,000
U.S.-led troops to leave in theory, but in practice won't do so. It cannot make long-term policy changes
pending general elections planned for January next. It cannot alter the contracts which awarded
Iraqi resources to foreign companies, including those associated with members
of the Bush administration. It lacks
deep roots in the country and has scant time to garner legitimacy before
then. But it does have more
international support than its predecessors in the outgoing governing
council--or, indeed, than the U.S.-led occupation authorities who have now
formally left. This is expressed in the
unanimous Security Council resolution 1546 in support of the transition and
explicitly backed in recent days by the European Union and NATO. They are convinced a stable, united and--if
possible--democratic Iraq must be created as an alternative to conflict and
destabilization in the Middle East. It
is in their interests to do what they can to ensure such an outcome. This stops short of supplying NATO troops to
supplement the existing multinational coalition.... Much will depend on how effectively the
elections are prepared.”
NETHERLANDS: "Power in
Influential, independent NRC Handelsblad judged
(6/29): "The Iraqis have their
country back, but are still not the boss in their own home yet. For, the accelerated transfer of sovereignty
by the American occupying force to the Iraqi interim government hardly changes
the actual situation, Washington continues to be in charge in Iraq.... The interim government actually only has one
priority: with the assistance of the
international troop force, it will have to restore law and order and security
as soon as possible. Peace and order can
strengthen the political position of Allawi and his team.... It is to be regretted that even a small NATO
task such as training the Iraqi army, encounters French restrictions.... This would have been the perfect opportunity
for a gesture of goodwill. But that is
not how things work in international politics.
In essence, the Americans with assistance of a small coalition force
will have to do the dirty job.... True, Washington called this upon itself but
considerable larger international support would have been welcome. It is eventually also in the French and
German interest that law and order be restored and terror curtailed. Without the Americans that is not
possible--in this sense the number of alternatives is limited. "
"Leave In Great Haste"
Influential liberal De Volkskrant editorialized
(6/29): "The Iraq Bremer is leaving
behind is very fragile and the interim government has a heavy task but limited
power. Allawi and his team will have to
become experts in balancing to make sure the country does not slip into a civil
war. They will have to show that they
are absolutely not managers for the United States but at the same time they
will need the Americans and other foreign troops to prevent the country from
further destabilizing. The financial
assistance which Washington promised will be of crucial importance.... If the interim government does not succeed in
bringing about some peace and quiet in the country it can forget about the
"A Heavy Task"
Left-of-center Trouw had this view (6/29): "The Iraqi interim government carries a
heavy task on its shoulders. It deserves
full support from the international community because a stable Iraq is in
everybody's interest. In that light, the
NATO decision to help out in rebuilding Iraq's security apparatus is good
news. But also the different interest
groups in Iraq should realize that after years of Saddam terror, they should
now seize this moment to build up a more prosperous and peaceful future. Other interests should be made subordinate to
NORWAY: "In Name Only,
In Reality Hardly"
The social democratic Dagsavisen commented (6/29): "Most Iraqis will still consider their
country to be occupied.... Peace has not
yet been won. At best, it has just been
POLAND: "Difficult Chance
Bogumil Luft wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita
(6/29): “The 18-month-long plan for
moving to democracy is beset with dangers.
Will Iraq give in to the influence of Islamic fundamentalism from
neighboring Iran? Will terrorism plunge
the country into chaos so people will turn to dictatorship? Will imagination suffice to accept autonomy
for the Kurds and avoid their revolt?
These are some of the questions that have yet to find answers. But by keeping the deadline to restore
sovereignty to Iraq, the Americans created the atmosphere of predictability,
which is really needed for the stabilization process. The deft maneuver to accelerate the moment
pushed away the threat of massive terrorist attacks slated for June 30.”
"We Kept The Word"
Maciej Letowski opined in right-of-center Zycie
(6/29): “Allawi’s interim government is
now taking responsibility for the history of Iraq. He will have to battle the terrorists. It is an important moment also for us
[Poles]. We took part in ousting Saddam
Hussein, and helped the Iraqi people build a basic state structure. The main goals of our presence in this
country have been realized. The day
power was transferred to Allawi is the day we succeeded. We have made the right decisions. We were on the right side of this front. We
have built a strong position as an ally.”
"Worse Is Difficult"
Center-left daily Diário de Notícias editorialized
(6/29): "The transfer of power...is
a small and uncertain step on the path to the stability.... It is small because from this point many
other larger steps will have to be taken in order to stay on the schedule
foreseen by UN Security Council resolution 1546.... It is uncertain because the main problem in
Iraq continues to be internal security and no one is currently able to
guarantee it.... The hope for peace has
nothing to do with the number of arms or the level of training of the new Iraqi
police and soldiers; it has everything to do with the cultural, historical, and
religious closeness of these forces with guerrilla groups. If the war proved something, one thing it
proved was that the U.S. has fewer and fewer friends in Iraq. Without [the Iraqis], or better, without
regaining their confidence, it is not possible to stabilize the
country.... Peace has, in this sense,
reason to exist. If only because to imagine
a more violent, more bloody, and more cruel Iraq is beginning to be difficult."
Serban Mihaila opined in respected Adevarul (6/29): “Even though initially, it was desirable that
it be celebrated as a real ‘historic moment,’ the ceremony for the transfer of
sovereignty ended up going almost unnoticed.
Carried by Iraqi television and a few other Arab stations, the ceremony
did not even feature the firing of canons, and the fireworks normally used when
the Iraqi soccer team wins in international competitions.”
Adrian Cochino remarked in independent daily Cotidianul
(6/29): “‘This historic day for Iraq’ as
it was called by President Ghazi Yawar, is overshadowed by a lot of uncertainty
regarding the future of a country devastated by war, the security of the
population, of the 160,000 foreign soldiers, and especially of the hostages
threatened every day with the newest Islamic terror--decapitation.”
Domen Caharijas commented in left-of-center
independent Dnevnik (6/30):
"Slovenia will participate in the training of the Iraqi security
forces. No matter how evasive Prime
Minister Rop's answers...the fact is that Slovenia will participate in the
normalization of the situation in [Iraq] after America's military-political episode. Also, as a NATO member, Slovenia 'continues
to support' the role of Poland in Iraq.
Why are we not involved in the way the prime minister keeps
explaining? The basic fact should not be
forgotten that the Americans transferred authority to the Iraqi government, but
this does not mean that they will withdraw their troops.... The troops will not be under the Iraqi
government's command. Hence, what we
have here is just a difference in meaning between 'international presence' and
"In The Grip Of Freedom"
Left-of-center, independent Dnevnik
commented (6/29): "American
President George W. Bush had every reason to be in a good mood
yesterday.... He ultimately got rid of
the burden [presented by] the occupation of Iraq, and the process of
introducing stability has been transferred from the Pentagon to the entire
international community.... After the
transfer of sovereignty in the chaotic country, a time has come for a new
leader with a firm hand. Prime Minister
Allawi knows well that people long for security. He does not have much time at his disposal to
provide for it. Not only people's
support for him is at stake, but also maintaining the integrity of the country
and preventing a civil war.... If Allawi
ignores the voice of the street and subordinates his policy to the advice given
by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, he will quickly lose the conditional support of
people.... As long as foreign soldiers
are on the Iraqi soil...the extremists can justify their...violence and the
nationalists have grounds for continuation of the uprising. Only after withdrawal of foreign troops will
Allawi's security forces get the necessary wide support of people."
Left -of-center, independent Vecer
remarked (6/29): "The Iraqis have
their destiny in their hands.... The new
government will have to face many questions.
Who appointed it? The United
States. When will parliamentary
elections take place? Supposedly next
January. Under which and whose
conditions, and according to which constitution? Nobody knows.... Paul Bremer's departure yesterday was...a bad
media bluff. The legacy he has left to
the new Iraqi government will burden it for years. Prime Minister Allawi will have to
prove...that he is not a marionette in the hands of imperialists...and persuade
the religious leaders to reach an agreement about which one will control the
Left-of-center El País contended (6/29): "Officially everything has changed; but
in reality, little is different.
However, one has to hope that this process of 'iraqization' will be
successful and open a transition that leads to elections from which come an
authentic Iraqi government. There is no
other plan right now.... Everyone,
including Spain, has an interest in a stable exit from Iraq. But it won't be easy.... It's understandable that Zapatero rejects
sending troops to Iraq.... But his
explanations are less convincing. For a
new government, one that has taken justifiable decisions but has strained
relations with the U.S., this doesn't seem like the best diplomacy. It doesn't necessarily mean asking for
forgiveness, but rather building relations, not only with President Bush, who
may or may not be re-elected in November, but with the leading economic,
cultural, and military power in the world....
The U.S. can and must regain its soul as the leading defender of human
rights in the world."
Conservative ABC editorialized (6/29): “Now's the time to be coherent in the
discourse that proposes combating terrorism with political weapons. The success of Iraqi democracy is the most
severe defeat that Islamic terrorist organizations could suffer, and to abandon
this conviction simply because it was the United States that has been the cause
for this change, reveals a grave confusion of principles.... The costs of the mutual distrust among the
allies have been high, and the discrepancies in views about world balance and
peace will perhaps last a while longer, but the international community cannot
escape the reflection the new Iraq forces on us.... The success of the new sovereign Iraq
concerns the whole international community, because it has already been shown
that there is no other alternative for collective security than the spread of
democracy, and the isolation, with all of its consequences, of aggressive
regimes. The coalition that ousted
Saddam--more than 30 democratic nations--deserves harsh criticism for the
blunders of the post-war period and the undeniable criminality of Abu
Ghraib. But only thanks to that
coalition is it possible that the principles of democracy and the liberties
calmly enjoyed by the West are now possible in Iraq.”
"The Sovereignty Of Iraq"
Centrist La Vanguardia held (6/29): “Everything [about the transfer of power] was
poor and almost hidden, in a sad epilogue to a story whose epicenter will be in
the United States during the coming months because of the November elections. A minimal stability in the Middle East after
the transfer of power would give oxygen to George W. Bush, who looks unable to
distance himself clearly from Kerry in the polls.... We’ll see if Bush’s nightmare has begun to
come to an end.”
"An Historic Day"
Baghdad's Al-Bayan, thrice-weekly published by the Islamic
Dawa Party, editorialized (6/29):
"Even with the handover having taking place two days ahead of
schedule, 30 June remains an historic day for Iraqis, particularly so as it provides
a strong motive for all Iraqis, the rulers and the ruled alike, to create a new
Iraq that refuses to allow its policies to be guided, its riches to be
plundered and its soil to used by others as a battle ground for settling
accounts with rivals. It is the ambition
of every honest Iraqi to see independence, freedom, equity and justice
prevalent, to enjoy the merits of peace, security and stability in this
long-suffering country, whose vast human and natural potential we aspire to
mobilize in a gigantic venture to build a model country no lesser in stature
than Japan, which, emerging from World War II utterly devastated, has managed
to develop into a global giant."
"Government Deserves Our Support"
Zuhayr al-Jaza'ri opined in Al-Mada of Baghdad, issued by
Al-Mada institution for Media, Culture, and Arts (6/29): "We should put ourselves to the test by
choosing to be for the government and against it at the same time. The fledgling government deserves our support
so that it can feel more confident in trying to prove itself by promoting
security, democracy and construction.
Moreover, its performance needs to be carefully monitored by the public
for any sign of laxity in carrying out its duties or failing to deliver on its
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(6/29): "We are aware that the
situation in Iraq is not as bleak as it is portrayed in the media. We are aware that matters could be worse,
that there have been unheralded successes, and that America's critics have
unreasonable expectations for what can plausibly be achieved in the short- and
middle-term. Finally, we are aware that
the new Iraqi government is the most democratic and progressive the Arab world
has ever seen, and therefore needs to be nurtured and defended. None of this, however, will count for much if
the U.S. is perceived to be retreating in the face of terror. It is perception, not reality, that will
shape the American presidential vote in November. And it is perception, not reality, that will
either embolden the worst elements in the Arab world or terrify them into
"Sovereignty Was Transferred -- But Occupation
Orly Azolai wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (6/29): "The transfer
of sovereignty...was at best a facade:
when 140,000 U.S. soldiers operate on Iraqi soil--in every city and on
every street--this is still an occupied country. America would very much have liked to
relinquish its responsibility, but it can't.
Prime Minister Allawi and President al-Yawar will be the Americans'
puppets. In the best case they will get
responsibility for handling Baghdad's sewer system. In any case, the security issue will remain
an American responsibility.... From now
on, the chaos left behind by the Americans will be presided over by some Iraqi
exiles who were appointed by the UN and get only limited support among the
Iraqi public.... In a few months, Bush
will vie for a second term. Polls show
he is expected to pay the price of failure in the war in Iraq. In a last-ditch, almost desperate attempt, he
is trying to convince the voters that he actually did good to the Iraqi people
when he released them from Saddam's burden and, now, when he transferred
sovereignty to them. Monday's ceremony
in Baghdad was directed more at the American people than at the Iraqi nation,
but facts on the ground leave no room for doubts: sovereignty was transferred, but the
occupation continues--so does the mess."
WEST BANK: "From Direct
Occupation To A Masked One"
Mohammed Nubani commented in independent Al-Quds
(6/29): "First off, what happened
in Iraq yesterday wasn't really a transfer of authority or sovereignty to the
Iraqis.... Rather, it was no more than
the handing over specific tasks and symbolic sovereignty by the Americans to
the Iraqi government, which is under full American control. In other words, the actual sovereignty and
real authority have remained with the occupation forces.... But we have to say here that even the handing
over of some authority and the appointment of a puppet government would not
have happened without the Iraqi resistance’s effective attacks against the
American occupiers.... Furthermore, it
is worth mentioning that the Americans have totally lost control of the
security situation, so much so that they were forced to move up the transfer of
authority from June 30th to the 28th and to conduct this pitiful process away
from the media out of fear of the Iraqi resistance."
"Iraq: A Difficult
Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (6/29): "The Americans want to prove that they
have come to Iraq to free it, not to occupy it, and the current situation is
appropriate for handing over power to a national authority. The United States, however, will provide the
national Iraqi authority a legal cover and international support.... The U.S. also wants to bring an end to
shootings and animosity with the Islamic world, which strongly believes that
the Americans are actually enemies. A
matter that requires Americans to rebuild Iraq in a manner that restores
confidence between the U.S. and the Islamic world."
"Transfer Of Power: A
Dammam’s moderate Al-Yaum maintained (6/29): "The transfer of power in Iraq requires
a solid Arab and Islamic position to help the Iraqi people.... Arabs must support the Iraqi people to regain
their sovereignty from the coalition troops....
On the other hand, the Iraqi people must understand that their country’s
high interests require them to silence voices of sedition and work toward
rebuilding a new, united, and free Iraq."
"Handing Over Authority In Iraq"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina opined (6/28): "We are sure that the handing over of
power in Iraq is nothing but a formality.
No one really believes that it is anything but that. The process of transferring power is long and
requires experience by the new party.
Iraq has not experienced this type of democracy for many years. The authority that would allegedly be handed
over was never theirs to begin with....
However, the transfer of power in itself is a positive development. But what is more important is that it means
the evacuation of U.S. troops and foreign forces from Iraq. Only then will the Iraqi people be able to
exercise true transparent democracy, and choose their representative government
through the ballot box."
JORDAN: "A Step In The
Urayb Rintawi wrote in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour
(6/29): “Despite rumors of the
possibility of postponing the transfer of authority to the Iraqis, Bremer and
the Iraqi government surprised everyone by pushing this deadline forward. Security considerations may have been
responsible somewhat for this decision, but the important thing is that the
step was taken and, by all standards, it is a step in the right direction that
cannot be belittled by the fact that it takes place while occupation troops are
still on the ground.... The hot issue
inside and outside Iraq, namely the future of the American occupation, will
most likely remain on Iraq’s agenda until that time when the occupation’s
departure is complete. The more the
Iraqis move towards restoring security and stability and reestablishing the
Iraqi state, the sooner they can call for the end and departure of the
"With And Next To A United And Sovereign Iraq"
Semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai contended
(6/29): "A strong and united new
Iraq must be the outcome of the efforts of its people, far away from
sectarianism, tribalism and ethnicity.
It is an Iraq that respects the culture and specificity of minorities in
a framework of unity. We in Jordan look
to the new stage that Iraq just crossed into with faith and optimism. The old
and modern history of Iraq confirms that all Iraqis of all background are
capable of building their country in a manner that honors its well-known
civilization and accomplishments.”
Sahar Baasiri wrote in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar
(6/29): “Transferring authority...is a
political moment that can only be evaluated by what comes after it. What should come after it is minimum
stability in security that would allow the continuation of the political
process towards conducting elections in January 2005, end the occupation
effectively, and rebuild Iraq.... Any
speeches today about full sovereignty, democracy and freedom are
meaningless.... There is no doubt that
the measure of Allawi’s success will be his ability to unite the majority of
the Iraqis around him through the use of policies that convince them that he is
working for Iraq and not for the Americans.”
"The Skin Of Occupation And The Fangs Of The Resistance"
Joseph Samaha argued in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(6/29) “The occupation is changing its
skin and is taking on a local look.
Bremer transferred authority in secret, two days before the due
date.... Obviously, [U.S. Ambassador]
Negroponte’s influence will not be less than Bremer’s even if the their titles
are different.... America is getting
ready to move the strings from behind....
Security will continue to be under the jurisdiction of the American
troops.... The U.S. also succeeded in
appointing puppets in the Iraqi Government....
The U.S. has changed its skin several times in Iraq so far.... Who remembers Jay Garner for example? Where is Ahmad Chalabi?... What is the meaning of the settlements
reached so far in Fallujah? What kind of
promises was Sistani given?... Right
now, we are witnessing in Iraq an occupation that is changing its skin and a
resistance which does not show except for its fangs.”
"Sovereignty Ahead Of Time: New Iraqi Government Must Plot A Careful
The moderate, English-language Daily Star
held (6/29): "Surprises are never in
short supply in the Middle East, and on Monday another one was delivered: the U.S. transferred sovereignty to the
interim Iraqi government a whole two days ahead of schedule. Certainly, two days earlier than the
much-publicized June 30 handover is far better than two days later which, had
it been the case, would no doubt have fueled a rampage of accusations and
rumors concerning U.S. designs for Iraq.
However, the secrecy with which such an important decision as handing
over sovereignty to the first post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi administration was made
and executed leads to the conclusion that the style of the U.S. civil
administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, is an example of what needs to be banished
from Iraq. Secrecy and dealing with the
country's future behind closed doors is something of which Iraqis have surely
seen enough. It is time for Iraqis to
stand up and work for their country....
Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and President Ghazi Yawar would be well
advised to chart a different course through rocky waters.... The rule of law should precede any drive for
order.... Another danger is that the
coldness and cruelty of the insurgents could stamp the fledgling Iraqi government
in its own mold: in what must surely be
necessarily firm action to combat the vicious forces of instability and terror
lies the trap of heavy-handedness and state brutality.... In walking the tightrope, the interim Iraqi
government should seek support from whoever will extend it.... The challenges ahead are legion, the pitfalls
many. It is a responsibility of the
international community as much as the new Iraqi government to ensure that the
challenges of government are met and the pitfalls avoided."
Ahmed Zaki noted in left-to-center Al Bayane (6/29): "After having installed the interim
Iraqi government, presided over by a man who is devoted to them, since he is a
former CIA agent, the Americans symbolically withdrew as expected while
maintaining military occupation in Iraq.
Paul Bremer leaves behind a transformed country that has become a land
of destruction where power is up for grabs.
We are far away from the promises made 15 months ago by George W. Bush
on the eve of the military intervention that was supposed to open the door to
establishment of democracy. Instead, it
is terror that dominates, with the multiplying terrorist attacks.... Each passing day brings its share of
suffering to the Iraqi people, who are stuck between the occupation forces and
terrorist gangs. Presently, nobody can
predict what the situation will be in Iraq after the formal disengagement of
the U.S., which will continue to pull the strings through Iraqi puppets, since
they will not let the oil wealth for which the war was declared slip through
their fingers.... It is the constant
failure of the American adventure in Iraq, led by the Bush administration, that
must be vigorously denounced for all the crimes committed in the name of
democracy. Bush and his hawks have done
so much harm to the Iraqi people and one would hope that they realize what a
mess they have made."
TUNISIA: "Transfer Of
Sovereignty To Iraqis?"
Kamel Ben Younes remarked in independent As-Sabah
(6/29): “The reactions of Iraqi citizens
range widely from optimism to pessimism, particularly after Prime Minister
Allawi announced a state of emergency and the closure of borders with
neighboring countries until security improves around the country. These statements provoked worries among the
Iraqi elite and human rights’ activists around the world.... It is very likely that Washington will
continue to play a strong political role over the next two years in Iraq. It is worth noting that the departure of
Ambassador Paul Bremer is not synonymous with the end of a direct American
political presence since the UN Ambassador Negroponte will replace him. Some analysts are optimistic in regard to the
fact that the new ambassador will represent the Department of State, and not
the Pentagon as was the case for Bremer....
This represents an important new element in the current U.S. political
scene where there exists a struggle between politicians and diplomats, led by
Secretary of State Powell and high-ranking Congressmen, and the advocates of
military options, led by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and the Pentagon hawks. Let’s hope that what happened yesterday in
Baghdad was not merely a ‘media maneuver’ rushed by President Bush and his ally
Tony Blair in order to alleviate the local political and media pressures they
have been facing over several weeks that could negatively impact on their
"Iraq Regains Its Sovereignty"
The English-language expatriate-oriented Gulf
News editorialized (6/29):
"What motivated the early handover of Iraq? Surely it cannot be that the Americans
decided they had enough punishment. For,
the actual number of American deaths was diminishing; what was increasing was
the 'soft' targets--Iraqi civilians, administrators and those aligning
themselves with the interim governing council.
There is speculation that the early return to Iraqi sovereignty was
inspired by rumors that terrorists would make a spectacular and deadly
demonstration of their prowess.... When
the purpose of the terrorists appears to be merely to strike fear into Iraqis,
obviously one day is as good as any other.
Indeed, what the mounting terrorist action has shown is that, contrary
to earlier perceptions, it was not the presence of the Coalition Provisional
Authority troops that created the animosity, it was the probability of a truly
democratic nation emerging in the Middle East.... Today Iraqis awake to the reality that the
people are in the control of their own nation.
Admittedly, while the new Iraqi government is not an elected body in the
true sense that democracy is fashioned, it is a body of people accepted by the
majority.... While the biggest issue
facing this new government is security and the establishment of effective
police and militia, it should not be forgotten that the basic utility services
the CPA failed to supply in quantity are a desperate necessity that must be
rectified with urgency. What should also
be considered is for the government seeking assistance from its neighboring
friends who have already shown a willingness to help. It is in times like these that it is good to
rely on such friends."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
"No Time To Quit A People In Need"
The popular tabloid Daily Telegraph
editorialized (6/29): "The
country's status as an independent, democratic state is now official. And the national determination to bring about
lasting social change is unmistakable.
But despite the early delivery of independence, there is no denying that
Iraq remains torn by terrorism, so the work of rebuilding the nation is far
from finished.... The equation is
simple. Because we want a world in which
human rights are respected, we cannot abandon the field to those who want a
return to oppression and cruelty. So the
only question remaining is this: do we
have a moral obligation to stay in Iraq, doing our best to support the local
and international effort to bring stability and order to the new Iraq? The answer to that is plainly, yes. The hard truth is, our servicemen and women
in Iraq are in mortal danger, but they remain there, knowing there is no other
choice but to do their duty. And they do
that on our behalf, knowing they are upholding a cause in which we all have a
share--the cause of peace."
"Iraq Begins Its Democratic Life"
The national conservative Australian
observed (6/29): "While the
official handover of power to the interim Iraqi government could not have been
completed with any less pomp, it could have been accompanied by a great deal
more bloodshed. The bringing forward of
the transfer by two days reflects the fragility of the security situation, but
also the pragmatism of both the U.S. and interim Iraqi administrations.... Yesterday's ceremony is still an important
symbolic confirmation of why the coalition of the willing went into Iraq in the
first place. This was not a war to take
away the freedom of an independent people and grab control of their resources: it was a war to give them back their freedom,
and the power to realize their natural wealth rather than have it stolen from
them.... It is incumbent on those
nations already involved directly in the Iraqi rebuilding process to stay the
"A Nation's Difficult Rebirth"
Tony Parkinson stated in the liberal Melbourne-based
Age (6/29): “The Bush
administration and a new Iraqi government beat history to the punch
yesterday. By ending the U.S.-led
occupation 48 hours ahead of schedule, they denied the radicals involved in a
brutal insurgency one last chance to showcase violent opposition to the
emergence of a government by Iraqis, for Iraqis.... Now begins the grueling and dangerous work of
steering Iraq towards elections, and the next phase of its post-Saddam
evolution.... In essence, the choice now
comes down to how Iraqis will decide their future: through bombs and bullets, or via the ballot
box , through an orderly constitutional process.... Yes, the new Iraq is enduring a baptism of
fire, the violence has been horrific, and sadly, there will be more. But it is worth thinking back a mere 15
months, to when Saddam still ruled the roost:
how many would have said this day would never come?”
"Is The U.S. Handover Of Power In Iraq Real Or Fake?"
Wu Wenbin, Li Wenyun, Tang Yong and Huang
Beizhao commented in official Communist Party-run People’s Daily (Renmin
Ribao) (6/29): “The U.S. has made
great efforts to hand over power to the Iraqi interim government for several
reasons. First, since Coalition troops
started occupying Iraq, expenditures have increased day by day, amounting to
almost twice the cost of the Gulf War, and the U.S. doesn’t want to bear these
costs by itself. Facing guerrilla
attacks, the U.S. realized that the means of occupation should be changed. Second, during this presidential election
year, the domestic election campaign is full of gunpowder smoke.... Bush urgently needs to stamp a full stop on
the Iraq issue and provide an answer to voters.
Considering both the domestic and international situations, the U.S.
hopes to get rid of its status as ‘occupying power’ through UN
authorization.... After the power
transfer, can the Iraq situation be stabilized as the Bush administration
hopes?... One of the best measures to
alleviate anti-U.S. sentiment is to make a real handover of Iraqi power. The more complete the power transfer is, the
better; the sooner it is, the better.”
"Iraq’s Sovereignty Changes Hands"
The official Communist Youth League-run China
Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) concluded (6/29): “Local consensus hold that the power transfer
is not complete, because more than 100,000 American soldiers are still deployed
in Iraq. Anti-U.S. sentiment among
Iraqis will not disappear completely along with the Iraqi power transfer.... After the power transfer, Coalition authorities
[departed]. But almost all the American
officials will stay in Iraq, identified as diplomats, and influence Iraqi
political decisions through various channels.... A patrol officer in Baghdad said his biggest
wish regarding the power transfer is that American soldiers keep their promise
and hand over security matters completely to the Iraqi police. So Iraqi police will no longer bear the
accusation of ‘abetting with American soldiers.’”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
"Iraq Needs Support To Make Handover A Success"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
said (6/29): "A surprise decision
to hand control of Iraq over to its new government two days ahead of schedule
may have averted an attack on the ceremony, but it does nothing to reduce the
enormity of challenges ahead. The
primary concern is security. Without it,
there is no way basic services can be re-established. And without these, rebuilding institutions
and a healthy economy also remain impossible.... NATO's commitment to help Iraq train its own
security forces should help, but civic peace will take much more than
that. It will take a substantial change
in the character of the military presence in the country and eventually a
leading military and policing role for Iraqis.
In the medium term, it will take troop commitments from a broad spectrum
of Muslim and non-Muslim countries, sent under the UN flag--as well as the
gradual withdrawal of the American troops, who now make up the bulk of
occupying soldiers.... The U.S.-led
invasion may have lacked international legitimacy, but the present instability
in Iraq poses a threat for us all.
Having toppled Hussein and brought promises of a better future, the
world cannot now abandon the country to the possibility of civil war or
worse.... The UN plan lays out the
process by which Iraq can get back on its feet, but there is little prospect of
success without substantial support from outside."
"Hope Iraqi People Can Enjoy Peace"
Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News contended
(6/29): "U.S.-led coalition forces
transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government two days ahead of
schedule. There was no grand occasion,
nor was there celebration among the people.
Instead, there was strict security.
This shows that the situation in Iraq is not stable and the road ahead
is rugged. There is still a long way to
go before Iraq can enjoy peace and prosperity.... Finally, the White House was exhausted and
transferred the sovereignty back to Iraq earlier than planned. The power of Iraqi interim government comes
from the U.S.... Besides, the interim
government must rely on U.S. forces to maintain stability.... The UN has agreed to get involved in the
reconstruction in Iraq. NATO has also
agreed to train Iraqi forces. All these
will help Iraq to get back on the track.
In addition, the 160,000 coalition forces have not yet come up with the
withdrawal timetable. They will become
the military forces to support the interim government. However, the success of the interim
government cannot rely solely on foreign power; it must win wide recognition of
the public.... Transferring the dignity
and interests back to Iraqi people is more important. Only in this way can Iraqi people have a
"Iraqi Puppet Government"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong
Economic Journal observed (6/30):
"The so-called transfer of sovereignty is just a trick played by
the Bush administration. On the surface,
the sovereignty of Iraq has been transferred back to the local government, but
the governing power is, in fact, still in the hands of the U.S. At present, the interim government is an
out-and-out puppet regime. After the
transfer of sovereignty, the U.S. has only pulled out one person--Paul Bremer,
the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq.
The 140,000 U.S. forces are still stationed in Iraq and the 150 U.S.
consultants continue to assist various departments in the interim government,
serving as the backstage rulers. The
U.S. suddenly moved up the date of transferring the sovereignty to Iraq. Security is obviously a reason because it
wants to avoid any possible attacks from local armed forces. The whole ceremony of the transfer of
sovereignty only lasted a few minutes.
There was no celebration. An
important historical moment ended in such a hasty manner. On the surface, Iraqi sovereignty has been
smoothly transferred. But the situation
in Iraq is still tense. The U.S. can
only hastily drop the burden in such a secret way. All of this reveals the panic and
helplessness of the Bush administration.
For President Bush, extricating himself from Iraq as early as possible
is a wise political move because he can explain to the American people and the
international community that the U.S. has retired after successfully completing
its task. However, it is also a
dangerous move. If the new Iraqi government
fails to govern the country effectively, Washington may be forced to intervene
"Further International Support Needed To Stabilize Iraq"
Business-oriented Nikkei editorialized
(6/30): "The international
community must help the Iraqi interim government restore public safety and
repair the economy in order to foster democratic reform. In recent NATO and U.S.-EU summit meetings,
leaders of the U.S. and European nations reaffirmed their commitment to the
rebuilding of Iraq. However, differences
remain over their specific engagement with a UN-mandated multinational
force. Despite their opposition to the
U.S. war on Iraq, France and Germany need to actively participate in
international efforts to stabilize Iraq.
They should also follow U.S. initiative to significantly reduce Iraq's
"New Iraq For Iraqis By Iraqis"
Liberal Asahi opined (6/29): "The construction of a new Iraq depends
on whether the U.N.-prescribed political process can be implemented on
schedule, including holding a national election and enacting a constitution
next January. What is most worrisome is
the absence of safety. As things stand
now, UN personnel are not able to resume activities in Iraq and there is a
possibility that the planned election could be postponed. The international community, which is
supposed to assist in the UN in Iraq, appears to be far from united. The NATO summit in Turkey failed to achieve
consensus on the deployment of a multinational force in Iraq mostly because the
U.S. and Britain refused to acknowledge that they made a mistake in launching
the Iraq war and instead tried to maintain influence over Iraq. The most important thing is to facilitate an
environment in which the Iraqi people can claim that they are in charge of rebuilding
their nation. If the Iraqi military and
police take the initiative in normalizing the security situation, it would help
isolate anti-U.S. militants. Islamic
clerics should also urge people to unite for reconstruction."
"Critical Step Toward Reconstruction"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized
(6/29): "The handover of power is a
critically important political step toward the democratization of Iraq. The transitional government bears heavy
responsibilities, as its foremost task is to implement the planned national
election in January without delay. The
government must have closer coordination with the UN to carry out the
election. If the security situation
remains uncorrected, UN officials would not be able to return to Iraq any time
soon and that could make the planned election impossible.... In order to prevent election sabotage by
terrorists, the U.S. military must play a key role. At the same time, the transitional government
should quickly strengthen the Iraqi military so that it can handle security
"Prime Minister Allawi Responsible For Restoration Of
Conservative Sankei observed (6/29): "The Iraqi people, having suffered long
under the harsh rule of Saddam Hussein, were supposed to celebrate unanimously
the day marking Iraq independence.
However, the transfer ceremony was advanced earlier than scheduled and
held without public participation--a sign signaling the confused situation in
Iraq caused by rampant terrorist attacks and rapidly deteriorating
security. The transitional government
led by Prime Minister Allawi has a large responsibility to swiftly put Iraq on
a reconstruction track."
With The Iraqis"
The independent English-langauge Jakarta Post
commented (6/30): “When the United
States formally handed over sovereignty to Iraq on Monday, what exactly did the
Iraqis have to show for it? Freedom?
Hardly. They may have rid
themselves of Saddam Hussein, but the continuing violence in numerous parts of
the country means that many people still live in constant fear. Democracy?
No, since the new interim government was appointed rather than
elected. Prosperity? Forget that.
But Iraqis have independence. And
that, for a nation that has gone through decades of tyrannical rule followed by
a brief foreign military occupation, means a hell of a lot.... All Iraqis have every reason and right to
rejoice in their new-found sovereignty and independence. The world, including us in Indonesia, must
join in this celebration.... Any debate
now about the rights or wrongs of that invasion is a moot point. We can say, however, that it has served one main
purpose: getting rid of Saddam Hussein
and his tyrannical and repressive regime. U.S. control over Iraq until Monday
had continued for as long as was necessary....
Iraqis have less than full independence today. The U.S. military continues to maintain a
heavy presence in spite of the transfer of sovereignty, and will likely remain
there until the country overcomes the violence perpetrated by the remnants of
the old regime or by foreign terrorist groups.
Iraq, also, has still to overcome the deep division that exists between
the three major ethnic/religious groups:
the Kurds in the north, the majority Shiite Muslims and the minority
Sunni Muslims. This is all the more
reason why liberal democracy--one that protects the interests of minority
groups and abides by the rule of law--must be established in Iraq as soon as
"Hopefully, Iraq Improves After Transfer Of
Leading independent Kompas commented
(6/30): “The transfer of power was
clearly aimed at relieving the Iraqis, who have become increasingly frustrated
and hostile to foreign occupation, and at making them less hateful to the
occupation forces. But the development
will depend on how effective the interim government will be in improving Iraq’s
conditions, particularly in the areas of security, job creation and elections
as the basis for democracy. If all these
could be realized, it is no exaggeration to expect that Iraq will soon be
restored and face a better future.”
Islamic-oriented Pelita commented
(6/29): "The U.S. secretly has
tried to expedite the transfer of power in Iraq amid the worsening violence in
the country.... The main task is to
uphold the law and restore security, including pressuring the resistant groups
that are escalating. President Bush has
been upset by these groups to that extent that he found it necessary to invite
EU and NATO to help in the Iraq issues and at the same time to improve his own
political image that has been spoiled by his invasion in Iraq. Therefore, it was very likely that the
earlier handover of the power in Iraq had something to do with Bush’s efforts
to win the hearts of its partners in Europe....
Now we can say that Iraq has returned to its own people, who are left
with a complex problem. And this
represents a stake for the government and people of Iraq in stepping towards
the future. Similarly, the Iraq case also
represents a stake in Bush’s political career.”
Nationalistic Harian Merdeka asserted
(6/29): "For no clear reason, [the]
U.S. Administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, formally handed over Iraq’s
sovereignty.... As a country with a
special closeness to Iraq, especially because we follow the same religious
school of thought, Sunni, we congratulate the new Iraqi leaders who will have
to carry out the hard work of writing a constitution and holding a general
election.... The handover represented
the beginning of a long course of Iraq to become an independent state.... If the whole process could be passed safely,
Iraq would become a fully sovereign country that would have the first
government that would be elected democratically in Iraq’s history. Hopefully, the process toward such full
sovereignty will not be marred by unilateral violent actions that would only
make the Iraqi people suffer forever.”
Colonialization Only Equals Destruction"
Independent web news Malaysiakini.com ran the following commentary
(6/30): "To the Iraqis, the promise
of democracy is nothing but hypocrisy in the absence of true freedom of choice
in a country already torn by war and insurgencies. If fate determines that fundamentalist Iraqis
gain power through democratic elections and then establish an Islamic
government, the likelihood is that the country and its people will continue to
be regarded as enemies of America and for that matter, Israel. The reason is obvious--the ultimate objective
of the invasion was to colonialism and secularize Iraq and to make the Iraqis submit
to the will of the superpower. Hence, in
a real sense, the Americans are not likely to leave, not until a truly
pro-American regime is established. The
lesson learnt is that a colonizer always behaves and acts like one through acts
that plunder, destroy and humiliate. The
handover of power to the interim Iraqi government is seen by many as a
strategic retreat from the original U.S. plan to colonies Iraq, in order to
achieve the ultimate aim of re-orientating the Iraqis to become
pro-America. Assessments by military
experts familiar with the American experience in Vietnam predict that the U.S.
will lose in Iraq in the same way it was humiliated in Vietnam. Chaos is a good pretext for Americans to
remain in Iraq for as long as they want.
So, why not create it?"
"Make Sure Iraq Has True Sovereignty"
Government-influenced, Malay-language Utusan Malaysia noted
(6/29): "The surprise early
handover of Iraq to its people makes us wonder if it was done to strengthen the
interim government’s position to face the challenges of militant groups. The
handover of Iraqi administration may have been done early to try to halt any
potential terrorist acts. With Baghdad
in Iraqi hands, the militants cannot make the U.S. a reason to continue their
acts of violence. However Washington
still has great influence in Baghdad, even if the interim government is in the
hands of Iraqis. The militant groups
also claim that the presence of U.S. troops is a clear sign that the U.S. is
still 'occupying' its country. We feel that
these militant groups should cease their acts of terror because it is their
very activities that allow the U.S. to continue stationing its troops in
Iraq. The Iraqi people must unite and
cooperate to rebuild their broken country.
Iraq has long suffered under the Saddam regime and the current actions
of a Washington administration that believes in military might to solve its
"Questions About The Handover"
Government-influenced, Malay-language Utusan
Malaysia maintained (6/29):
"Many questions have been asked about the fate of Iraq after its
administration is handed over to the interim government. The realistic answer would be: that there would not be much change. So long as U.S. soldiers and their allies remain
stationed in Iraq, blood will continue to be shed. Many former Saddam supporters and Baath
officers are unhappy with the loss of power and luxuries under the new interim
government. Various militant and
resistance groups declare they will continue their acts of violence as they
consider the interim government a puppet regime. Is the new Iraqi police force ready to handle
the task of enforcing the law and maintaining security in the new Iraq? This early handover of the administration of
Iraq--is it because the country faces the threat of sabotage from terrorist
"Iraq's Deja Vu"
The moderate Manila Times declared (6/28): "With authority changing hands, the
transformation of Iraq from conquered land to a bastion of democracy in Middle
East is expected to gather momentum. To
pin much hope on that expectation is to betray a warped sense of optimism about
the situation in Iraq. The handover
looms more as an ominous than a propitious event. The enemies of the coalition have vowed to
convert the handover into their own stage for bloodshed and havoc.... The new leaders of Iraq must tread ever so
"Moment Shows Iraq's Determination"
Pro-government Malay-language daily, Berita
Harian, opined (6/30): "The
world was taken by surprise when the United States granted independence to Iraq
on Monday, two days ahead of schedule.
The interim Iraqi government now faces tough challenges. The unity of its leaders will be assessed by
the world. They have to show a high
degree of professionalism and patriotism in running the country. The key task before them is to strengthen the
country's military and police forces to fight terrorism. Hopefully, the people of Iraq will face the
challenges, especially terrorism, with fortitude.... It is
only when there is peace that the first democratic general election can be held
in the country.... Iraq which has the
highest number of scholars in the Arab world has a great potential to recover
fast. However, the interim government
must act wisely and be integrated. But,
it still needs the cooperation of the coalition troops to fight terrorism
before its military force becomes fully
self-reliant. Its task is indeed
difficult because it has not obtained a mandate through an election. It has to get rid of the image of being a
"More Instability In Iraq, Despite The Transfer Of
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized
(6/29): “Concerned about possible terror
attacks by Iraqi resistance forces, the U.S. handed over sovereignty to Iraqis
yesterday, two days earlier than scheduled.
However, it seems unlikely that the transfer of limited sovereignty to
an interim Iraqi government will improve the Iraqi situation...especially at a
time when various anti-U.S. Islamic groups have penetrated into Iraq, turning
the country into a stage for international jihad.... The situation in Iraq has already become
‘Vietnamized.’ Not only resistance
forces but also many ordinary Iraqis are starting to show animosity toward the
ROK, which will be sending the third largest number of troops to the Gulf
state.... Nevertheless, the ROKG and the
leadership of the ruling Uri Party still argue that sending troops is
inevitable for peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. They are caving in to the demands of the
U.S., which invaded Iraq illegally and unilaterally, at the expense of the
lives and property of the Korean people.”
"To Rebuild Democracy, Iraq Must First Restore Its National
The conservative, pro-unification United
Daily News editorialized (6/30):
"Under such chaotic conditions, the so-called sovereignty handover
appears to be just the fact that the United States is pulling away from the
spotlight of center stage whereas the actual situation remains basically
unchanged. But the symbolic ceremony of
returning power to Iraq has at least given the Iraqi people a sense that they
are now the masters of their own nation.
This is probably the first step in assuaging the Iraqi people's
anti-American sentiments. It may not be
easy [for people] to feel optimistic about whether the Iraqi interim government
headed by pro-U.S. Prime Minister Allawi can stabilize the situation in Iraq;
everything relies on whether the U.S. military, now hidden behind the scenes,
can maintain a subtly balanced relationship with the interim
government--namely, to help Iraq maintain security and order effectively while
at the same time allowing the interim government to have enough space to start
building a new nation. If it fails to do
so, the realization of having Iraqi people rule Iraq will just become a
mirage.... In light of the upcoming
presidential election, President George W. Bush cannot help but use the
opportunity this transfer of power offers to escape [from the questions], so
that the United States will no longer be the first to bear the brunt of
international criticism. But the United
States has spent more than one hundred billion U.S. dollars on the war in Iraq,
and of course it cannot just walk away like that. Behind the scenes, it will continue to
operate [to secure] its interests, which include oil, Central Asian strategy,
and business opportunities in the reconstruction of Iraq. To tell the truth, this is also the reason
why most people do not believe that it is due to some noble idea of democracy
that makes the United States want to return power to Iraq."
"Troops Must Be Withdrawn Immediately"
The business-oriented Thai-language Post Today commented
(6/29): “It’s time the government
ordered a troop pull-out from Iraq. That
the U.S. government decided to transfer sovereignty to Iraq on June 28 means
the Thai troops’ mission has been fully completed. If we are to maintain some troops there, it
should be done only at a direct request from Iraq. The government decided to send troops to
Iraq, citing a humanitarian reason but it is a known fact that this decision
was made at the request of the U.S. with some economic trade-offs.... Thailand should continue to support the
rebuilding of Iraq by other means but the government must withdraw troops so
that they can help rebuild our country, particularly with regard to national
security. This can no longer wait.”
"A Crucial Time For Iraq's Destiny?"
Tran Nhung wrote in Quan Doi Nhan Dan, a
daily run by the People's Army of Vietnam (6/29): "The power transfer in Iraq took place
two days earlier than planned, reflecting Washington's concern about the
chaotic situation in Iraq and its inability in dealing with the
situation.... The transfer is not
complete because after June 28, the provisional government of Iraq only have
limited authority, and the most important thing is that they have virtually no
authority over U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq.... Anyway, in many aspects, that the U.S. handed
over the power to the Iraqi provisional government is a turning point in the
development process of a new Iraq. It is
the first step for Iraqi people to control their destiny and life and gradually
reduce dependence on the U.S.-British coalition."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
"Two Days' Grace"
The Calcutta-based centrist Telegraph held (6/29): "Drama does not always distract. By handing over sovereignty to the interim
government in Iraq two days in advance of the scheduled date, the U.S. has
acted out its good intentions on the international stage. The immediate reason is the desire to foil
further violence that may have been planned by insurgents of various colors for
the June 30 deadline. In spite of
appearances, this looks at one level like a neat cut-and-run operation. It is not just that the U.S. cannot manage
the escalating death and destruction its presence has created in Iraq, by
aggravating and sharpening the conflicts already present in that unhappy
country.... Allawi has perhaps been
handed one of the most difficult jobs in the world.... Building up a country afflicted with a past
like Iraq's is going to need tremendous skill.
And Allawi's limited powers cannot help."
PAKISTAN: "Transfer Of
The center-right national English-language Nation stated
(6/29): "The transfer seems more a
formality than substantial. The U.S.
forces in Iraq would continue taking orders from their own command rather than
from the new administration.... The
totally unjustified U.S. aggression has not only galvanized the local
population against the occupation forces but has also attracted from all over
the world anti-U.S. forces of all hues and colors."
"Transfer Of Power"
The centrist national English-language News judged
(6/29): "There is no certainty how
the future will unfold as the Americans far from resolving some of the problems
extant added more by tinkering with the existing delicate ethnic and sectarian
division of power. There is every
probability that the long-suffering state would witness more violence as
various forces initiate turf wars....
The continuing stationing of U.S. troops, deemed as necessary to
strengthen the security of the state and the presence of an army of foreigners
are certain to make the violence a growth industry."
SRI LANKA: "America
Struggles For Redemption"
Independent Tamil-language Thinkkural commented
(6/30): "America, which disregarded
the UN and sent troops to Iraq, handed administration back to the Iraqis on
Monday after 14 months of occupation....
The transition took place two days before schedule as a precautionary
measure to evade the intensifying guerrilla attacks.... America and its allies invaded Iraq, accusing
Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction. To date not a single WMD has been found.... Now troop losses have pushed President Bush
into a crisis in the U.S. ... Guerrilla
attacks grow worse each day. The
transition of power is...an effort to redeem America from the Iraqi
"A New Iraq"
Government-owned English-language Daily News remarked
(6/29): "Iraq is now back in the
hands of Iraqis. The U.S.-led coalition
formally ended its 14-month occupation of Iraq yesterday, handing power to a
caretaker government two days earlier than expected. There have been many tumultuous events since
the war began on March 20, 2003, including the deaths of Saddam's sons and
Saddam's capture.... But the violent
campaign against the coalition forces continues unabated.... There is also no conclusive evidence of links
between Saddam's regime and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network. Obviously, there have been colossal
intelligence failures on the part of Allies.
The Iraqi people have experienced untold hardships all these years. We must applaud their resilience and
encourage them as they search for peace and prosperity."
SOUTH AFRICA: "How To Win Iraq
Pro-government, Afro-centric Sowetan
editorialized (6/30): “The handover
ceremony... succeeded in confirming only one reality: namely, a disturbing acknowledgment that Iraq
is far from being stable enough to exercise its sovereignty.... The date was entirely dictated by the
insurgency against the British and the U.S.-led allied forces, further
confirmation of their lack of control....
It was a handover of a legacy which holds little promise of peace and
stability in the next few years. All it
means is that Iraqis themselves will now have to take full responsibility for
the violence that the insurgency will deliver.
At least that is what occupying armies would want to argue.... It is one the Americans will peddle
leadership...will continue to be perceived as U.S. appendage for as long as the
American presence remains as prominent as Bush has promised it will be for the
next few years.... Though the transition
is imperfect, the world community...ought to accept that a stable Iraq is in
the world’s self-interest. What is in
dispute is how to achieve it.”
"Handover In Iraq"
Balanced Business Day commented
(6/30): “It’s too early to tell whether
the U.S. intervention in Iraq was a brave but failed attempt to recast the
politics of the Middle East or an ill-considered military adventure founded on
deceit that went horribly awry. Either
way, the result is a country with a staggering slate of problems.... But although the challenges seem
overwhelming, there are small glimmers of hope.
Iraq has a governing council of stature.... It is crucial that the interim council should
have the maximum power possible so that it is not contaminated by association
with the former occupiers.... Yet it
would be a mistake for these troops to leave immediately.... If Iraq slides back into authoritarianism,
the effort will not only have been a costly mistake in lives and effort; but
even worse, it will have been simply pointless.”
From Occupation To Occupation"
Liberal This Day observed (6/29): "Yesterday’s ‘transfer of power’ to an
interim Iraqi government two days early is a recognition by Washington of its
failure to impose order on the country it invaded and has occupied for the past
14 months, rather than any sign of confidence in a new era of self-rule for
Iraq.... The U.S. military...has found
it far harder to quell its new opponents in the Iraqi insurgency.... Far from fostering democracy, the U.S.
proconsul has handed the reins to an interim government imposed from outside
that cannot survive without a massive foreign military presence. Iraq may not be ‘occupied’ in the language of
the diplomatic corps, but it remains an occupied society.... The challenge for Iraq’s rulers...will be to reconcile
by consensus what Saddam suppressed by brute force.... The rest of the world owes Iraq full support
in building this consensus. However, as
the U.S. occupation has proved, Iraqis will have to build it themselves, and it
is unlikely to come together until foreign troops leave the country.”
"Bush Plays Into Bin Laden’s Hands"
Allister Sparks contended in the liberal Star (6/29): “As the U.S. handed over nominal sovereignty
of Iraq to an appointed Iraqi regime yesterday the situation in that country
never looked bleaker.... What may well
follow is a domino effect of a reverse kind, with endemic instability in Iraq
infecting the rest of the Middle East, leading to the growth of Islamic
fundamentalism and a concomitant increase in global terrorism. Bush’s ‘war on terrorism’ was ill conceived
from the start.... Every justification
Bush has presented for going to war has turned into excrement.... The new regime will have to be propped up by
an occupying force, which is deeply hated by the general populace. The fundamentalists resent the Americans and
the West in general.... But the
fundamentalists hate the local U.S.-supported rulers even more.... Attacking America and its allies...is
therefore primarily intended to provoke a retaliatory assault on the Arab world
that will have an effect of arousing a uniting Muslims behind the
fundamentalist cause. On this analysis,
Bush is playing Osama’s game on cue....
Picture, then, a scenario in which fundamentalists seize control of the
world’s leading oil producer, while the second largest producer, Iraq, remains
unstable with its production severely restricted. A scenario in which an oil crisis leads to a
global economic crisis, which leads to calls for another war. A worst case scenario to be sure, but not an
KENYA: "Onus On
Interim Govt. To Speed Up Iraq Autonomy"
Investigative/sensational People declared (6/29): “In the meantime, the UN role in Iraq should
be enhanced to not only to serve as a psychological boost to the Iraqis but
also ensure that the road to democratic elections is devoid of interference
from the former occupying forces. But
even more importantly, there will be need to ensure that all sections of the
Iraqi community are given a chance to ensure that their interests are catered
for under the new Iraq as a way of ensuring that the country remains
united. The international community must
also now be prepared to put away the differences that resulted from the
invasion of Iraq and aid in rebuilding the country and also to maintain
security in the country during the interim period.”
"Anti-American Feelings Remain High"
Independent, left-of-center Nation said (6/29): “But anti-American feelings remain high both
in Iraq and throughout the world. For
U.S. President George Bush and British Premier Tony Blair have fallen far short
of proving the reasons which they gave the world for invading Iraq. So, quite naturally, the detractors will
dismiss yesterday’s event as nothing but an attempt to cut the increasingly
onerous military, political and financial costs by installing a group of
Quislings who will continue to take their orders from the White House.... Yet this is the reality that we must live
with. Whatever we think of Mr. Bush and
Mr. Blair, the fact is that they have staked so much in the situation--money,
weapons, blood, prestige--that we cannot realistically expect them to pull
everything out at once, leaving only a vacuum.... The U.S. and Britain will find it necessary,
too, to appeal to all other states--through the UN--to contribute every
resource to that cause so that Iraq can return to the comity of nations as soon
Handover The Beginning Of Long Journey To Self-Rule"
Government owned Times of Zambia
commented (6/30): "A decision by
the U.S.-led coalition to hand over Iraq's sovereignty secretly, two days
before schedule and at supersonic speed is enough evidence that all is not well
in the troubled Middle East state....
With the noise made and the fanfare that followed after the invasion of
Baghdad...the handover occasion should have been a time for celebration.... But alas, the power transfer was done...to
elude possible insurgent incursions...[yet]...by mid-yesterday five people had
been killed in attacks.... However, dry
as the ceremony may have been, it is a positive step towards what the people of
Iraq have always looked forward to.
Since the deposing of tyrant leader Saddam Hussein, Iraqis have been
itching for the chance to begin running their own affairs. The partial handover...[is]...the beginning
of a long journey to self-rule.... What
the new leaders lack is democratic legitimacy...mere puppets whose strings will
be pulled from Washington and London....
It will be imperative therefore that the care-taker team goes straight
into laying ground work for free and fair elections. Until that is done they [interim government]
remain as illegal as the occupying coalition forces.... But the greatest challenge to Allawi and his
friends is...curb the spiral of violence....
To achieve this, he badly needs...to get tough with criminal
elements...[and] extend an olive branch to the hundreds of militias who have
been causing mayhem.... The above
internal factors will be crucial to the stabilization of Iraq, but even more
critical is the need for the coalition troops to leave without delay. The United Nations should quickly assume
responsibility. As things stand the
Americans and British soldiers may be liberators but the Iraqis do not trust
them. And trust is a key component the
Iraq resurgence program badly needs."
CANADA: "Iraq's New
The leading Globe & Mail editorialized (Internet
version, 6/29): "Even as U.S.
President George W. Bush continues gamely to insist that things are looking up
in Iraq, polls show that fewer and fewer Americans believe him. The irony is that, for the first time in
months, Mr. Bush is right. Iraq's newly
sovereign government...faces a multitude of problems. Yet in several important respects, the
outlook is brighter now than at any other time since the war. The establishment of a legitimate, sovereign
government, with broad popular backing and a firm timetable toward free
elections, is a huge step forward. That
fact should not be lost amid the terrorist bombings and beheadings or obscured
by anti-Bush sentiment in the United States....
It remains unclear how Iraq's green security forces, which are still
being trained, can succeed where the Americans have not. The new regime's relationship with the U.S
embassy...is bound to be difficult. Such
is the unpopularity of the U.S. occupation that the president and prime
minister must be seen to chart their own course or be branded puppets. At the same time, the United States retains
exceptional leverage in the form of its 140,000 troops on the ground, without
whom the new regime could not long survive.
This will inevitably cause clashes.
That said, there are good reasons to be optimistic.... International support for the reconstruction
is strong and growing. The United
Nations Security Council has already endorsed the new regime. Yesterday, NATO offered its support, in the
form of additional training for Iraqi security forces.... In other words, the struggle in Iraq is
taking a shape in which right-thinking people, whether Democrat or Republican,
pacifist or hawk, can agree on the desired outcome. That is hopeful news for
democracy, and for the people of Iraq."
"Iraq Is Ready For Elections"
Amir Taheri commented in the conservative National Post
(Internet version, 6/29): "On
Monday, Iraq began a transition whose outcome could determine the future of the
Middle East for a generation.... The
nation's success in building a pluralist system of government would give a
tremendous boost to supporters of reform in the Middle East. Its failure could set the clock back and
propel Islamist radicals and pan-Arab nostalgics to power in neighboring Arab
countries. The remnants of the Saddamite
regime and their theocratic allies will do all they can to prevent
elections.... Slogans scribbled on some
Baghdad walls tell it all: 'From the
polling box to the coffin.' Those who
know Iraq, including interim President Ghazi Ujail al-Yawar and Prime Minister
Allawi, have long been urging elections.
But till now, the coalition chose not to take their advice, citing a
variety of reasons.... The fear that the
security situation in Iraq remains too unstable for elections...has generated a
chicken-and-egg dilemma: Iraq is
unstable because it does not have an elected government--which it cannot have
because it is seen as too unstable to hold elections.... The truth is that Iraq is more stable than
some hope and others fear.... While some
in the West regard Iraq's situation as catastrophic, the Iraqis and their
neighbors have greater confidence in the prospects of their newly liberated
country. Elections can and should be
held soon: there is no reason to prolong
this dangerous parenthesis and allow the terrorists six more months in which to
pretend that they are fighting on behalf of the nation."
"Changing Of The Guard"
Editorialist Serge Truffaut commented in Montreal's liberal Le
Devoir (6/29): "It goes without
saying that Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi does not have much leeway. Even more so because, and it is an open
secret, he IS the Bush administration's man.
His resume indicates he has spied for the American and British secret services
and, therefore, we can say that, in the eyes of Sunni and Shiite leaders,
especially religious ones, his credibility must be thin. Logically, we can expect that power struggles
between him and the various leaders of an Iraq that is proving to be the most
multi-ethnic country in the Middle East will be edgier than was
anticipated.... Reality being what it
is, that is, a persistent and more pronounced chaos than three months ago,
Allawi will opt for strong-arm tactics in the coming hours. On the military front, it must be said that
the American contingent, with its 140,000 soldiers, is more imposing today than
it was at the height of war. The White
House anticipates sending 25,000 additional troops. This shows how restoring peace to the country
is expected to be a laborious and confusing venture.... While Paul Bremer was handing the marshal's
baton over to Iyad Allawi, the chiefs of NATO member states struck a
hard-fought deal in Istanbul. Concerning
Iraq, the Blair-Bush duo position can be summarized as: as much NATO as possible; that of the
Chirac-Schroeder duo: as little NATO as
possible. Both sides therefore closed
the gaps painfully.... For better or
worse, President Chirac and Chancellor Schroeder told President Bush and Prime
Minister Blair that the training of police and military must take place outside
of the Iraqi territory.... Conceding to
Washington about Iraq was just not on the day's agenda. Meanwhile, Allah fanatics are sharpening
"Iraq's Tortured Hope"
The liberal Toronto Star opined (Internet
version, 6/28): "It is hard to
glimpse hope through the smoke of car bombs, assassinations and gunfire in
Baghdad, Mosul, Fallujah and other Iraqi cities.... Still, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, an old
covert U.S. ally, vows to 'crush' the insurgents, with the help of a cabinet
picked by Washington and the United Nations.
American admirers hail him as 'our kind of bully.' And while Iraqis wonder whether he can rally
the nation to beat back Saddam Hussein-era holdouts and al-Qaida terrorists,
the UN Security Council has given him the nod, so Iraqis are willing to let him
try. All this makes for an important
psychological moment, as 23 million Iraqis shake off decades of despotism, war
and sanctions and begin to retake control of their destiny. This liberation has come at a high
price. U.S. President George Bush's
ill-conceived rush to oust Saddam took 15,000 Iraqi lives, 1,000 Americans and
allies, and cost $200 billion.... As
power is transferred...the tussle for power will begin in earnest among Iraq's
large Shia group, and the Sunnis and Kurds.
The political road forward promises to be a tortuous one.... Allawi's first order of business will be to
reconstitute 50,000 troops from Iraq's disbanded army to provide critical
security, to get a civil service up and running and to persuade donors to
deliver the $30 billion in aid Iraq has been promised.... Despite rich oil resources Iraq is hobbled by
a $120 billion debt. Jobs are scarce,
along with power, clean water and health services. So Iraqis need the world's help.... Ottawa has rightly drawn the line against
sending troops there. We are busy in Afghanistan
and Haiti. Still, we can provide more
aid and invite others to do the same.
And the sooner, the better. Most
Iraqis regard the Americans as unwanted occupiers, not liberators. Most Americans now think the war was a
mistake. Pressure can only build on the
U.S. to get out. Iraqis have months, not
years, to rebuild their broken house, or risk its collapse."
"A Sign Of The Impotence Of The U.S. Army"
Gustavo Sierra commented in leading Clarin
(6/29): "The surreptitious and
early departure of Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, did nothing but
reinforce the idea of a failure. The
explanation that the handover of sovereignty to Prime Minister Allawi was made
two days earlier than scheduled in order to avoid new attacks that could
jeopardize the ceremony, more than a preventive action appears like one of
impotence. Bremer departed without
fulfilling any of Bush's goals when he invaded Iraq.... Not only is Iraq less democratic than under
Saddam's dictatorship, for the past 15 months, it has lived at war. And its neighbor countries, instead of taking
steps towards a broader participation of their societies in government
decisions, decided to isolate themselves and concentrate on their own
totalitarian doctrines. Bush's second
goal with this war was to fight international terrorism. Once more, it was an absolute failure. Iraq became the training camp for hundreds of
Islamic extremist groups from all over the world.... And Bush's idea that a highly technological
army could cope with any regular army or guerrilla movement also failed.... This is the trap that 138,000 U.S. soldiers
are caught in.... Today, everything
indicates the impossibility of holding elections that will lead to the creation
of any democratic government. And it's even unlikely that a more or less formal
election process will be able to take place on January 2. Anyway, we must remember that what took place
yesterday was only a transfer of government, not power. For any important decision, Allawi's
government will always have to consult with the U.S. generals that will remain
stationed in Iraq."
"Same Song, Different Tune In Iraq"
The editorial of the conservative Daily
Gleaner stated (6/29): "Bush
administration officials are pushing the line that any attacks against the new
regime should be seen as Iraqi versus Iraqi violence. That, of course, is only partially true. Since the new regime is a U.S.-approved one,
there is little distinction to be made between them and the previous one, not
only in the minds of ordinary Iraqis but in the minds of the insurgents as well. As some analysts have noted, to Iraqis,
members of the new regime may have independent thought, but not independent
action. In reality, little has
changed. As part of the restoration to
normality in Iraq, the U.S. should seek to draw on the cooperation of those
countries which have demonstrated an interest in the rebuilding effort. The defiant and headlong push to occupy Iraq
in furtherance of narrow geo-political interests, has proven, to date, to be an
unqualified diplomatic failure. There is
still opportunity to make amends."