International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

June 30, 2004

June 30, 2004





**  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 considerations."


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 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 crime.


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 105 reports from 48 countries June 29-30, 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




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.”


"Handing Over"


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 opportunity."


"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 lives."


"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."


"Historic Day"


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 Remains Intact"


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.”


"A Wager"


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.”


GERMANY:  "Sovereign And Unclear"


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 Doors"


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.”


RUSSIA:  "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 leaders."


AUSTRIA:  "Hushed-Up Transfer"


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 best interest.”


"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.”


BELGIUM:  "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."


"Allawi's Task"


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 first place."


HUNGARY:  "Poor Iraqis"


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 their tune.”


"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 Iraq"


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 rest."


"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 this."


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 begun."


POLAND:  "Difficult Chance For Iraq"


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.”


PORTUGAL:  "Worse Is Difficult"


Center-left daily Diário de Notícias editorialized (6/29):  "The transfer of 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."


ROMANIA:  "Unnoticed Ceremony"


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.”


SLOVENIA:  "Semantics"


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 'occupational forces'."


"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."


"Limited Sovereignty"


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 country."


SPAIN:  "Limited Sovereignty"


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."


"Sovereign Iraq"


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.”




IRAQ:  "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 promises." 


ISRAEL:  "Exit Baghdad"


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 inaction."


"Sovereignty Was Transferred -- But Occupation Continues"


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."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Iraq:  A Difficult Transition Phase"


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 Difficult Test"


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 Right Direction"


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 occupation.”


"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.”


LEBANON:  "Transferring Authority"


Sahar Baasiri wrote in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (6/29):  “Transferring 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 Course"


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."


MOROCCO:  "Mess"


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 political futures.”  


UAE:  "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."




AUSTRALIA:  "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 course."


"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?”


CHINA:  "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 better future." 


"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 again."


JAPAN:  "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 debt."


"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 issues."


"Prime Minister Allawi Responsible For Restoration Of Security"


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."    


INDONESIA:  "Rejoice 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 conditions allow.” 


"Hopefully, Iraq Improves After Transfer Of Power" 


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.”


"Iraq Returns"


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.”


"Iraq Sovereignty"


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.”


MALAYSIA:  "When Colonialization Only Equals Destruction"


Independent web news 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 problems."


"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 attacks?"


PHILIPPINES:  "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 carefully."


SINGAPORE:  "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 U.S. puppet."


SOUTH KOREA:  "More Instability In Iraq, Despite The Transfer Of Sovereignty"


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.”


TAIWAN:  "To Rebuild Democracy, Iraq Must First Restore Its National Dignity" 


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."


THAILAND:  "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.”


VIETNAM:  "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."




INDIA:  "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 Sovereignty"


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 effort to redeem America from the Iraqi crisis."


"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 (2)"


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 relentlessly....   Allawi’s 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.”


"Iraq:  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 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 inconceivable one.”


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 as possible.”


ZAMBIA:  "Partial 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 elude possible insurgent incursions...[yet] 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 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 Governors"


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 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 their sabers."


"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."


ARGENTINA:  "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."


JAMAICA:  "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."


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