August 27, 2004
Al-SISTANI BRINGS 'BEACON OF HOPE'
is at a crossroads in Najaf; the outcome will shape the "balance of
power" in Iraq.
Ayatollah al-Sistani is the key to the Najaf crisis; "only he"
can succeed where U.S. "failed."
instability is a test for the "legitimacy-challenged" Allawi
"mistakes," lack of "respect" for sacred sites created
"fertile ground" for radicals.
Iraq is at a 'watershed', stakes are 'very
high'-- Global papers termed
Najaf the "pivotal confrontation" and "tipping
point" of post-war Iraq, predicting its outcome to be "decisive for
the emerging democratic Iraq.” Najaf is
no longer a standoff between U.S. troops and al-Sadr's militia, explained
London's left-of-center Guardian, it is "the place where the world
outlook of Iraq's majority Shia populations could be settled for perhaps a
generation." Although some observers
labeled al-Sadr an "anti-American firebrand" who was
"clearly" out to destabilize the new government, France's
center-right Le Figaro was just one to venture that he "may be on
the verge of becoming an emblematic unifying agent for [opposing] America's
Sistani takes 'initiative'-- Many writers bet on Ayatollah al-Sistani as the
"one to put things back in order" and stop al-Sadr's "looming
myth-making." Recognizing it would
be a "stroke of genius" if he succeeds, Austria's liberal Der
Standard cautioned that since neither the U.S. nor the interim government
has "control of the situation" there is still a risk of
"escalation by radicals." Euro
papers concurred with Saudi Arabia's moderate Al-Watan that
deterioration of the security situation "led al-Sistani to come back as a
rescuer" and that "his initiative will give religious groups power
over their political counterparts."
An Italian outlet was impressed that "an unarmed ayatollah with
great moral authority brokered a deal in only a few hours time."
A chance for Allawi to 'clear the table?'-- Papers split on PM Allawi's handling of the
crisis. Allawi supporters, mainly on the
political right, admired him for managing the crisis with "undeniable
skill" and for showing he was willing go "put his own political
future on the line" by "adding his voice to those demanding the
disarming" of the Mahdi militia.
Disbanding the militia, observed London's Daily Telegraph, would
not only strengthen Allawi but also "create the conditions" to hold
democratic elections in January.
Skeptics, particularly among Muslim and leftist observers, instead
portrayed Allawi as a "loser" who was "unable to cope" with
the resistance. "In Sistani's
absence," mused Lebanon's moderate Daily Star, Allawi and the newly
installed national assembly "groped about in the dark for a palatable
U.S. contributed to 'anti-American hatred'-- Muslim writers blamed
U.S. mistakes and disregard for "sacred sites" for creating the
conditions for radicals to gain power at the expense of "moderates"
such as al-Sistani Though Washington
wants a "docile, pro-government in Baghdad after elections," chided
Bahrain's pro-government Daily Tribune, U.S. attacks on al-Sadr and his
militia are "only making him more popular and powerful." A Turkish writer concluded the U.S.'
"underestimation of the Shi'ites" was one of its biggest
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,
EDITOR: Irene Marr
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. Some commentary is taken directly from the
Internet. 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 82 reports from 31 countries over 19 - 27 August 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most
"End Game In Najaf"
An editorial in the conservative Times
held (8/27): "Grand Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani...returned yesterday to offer his cornered rival, Hojatoleslam
Moqtada al-Sadr, an 'honourable' exit from the shrine of Imam Ali.... It will not be represented as such, but this
is an outcome with vital bearing on the leadership of the Shia world.... The
reassertion of the ayatollah's authority will not end violence, but it would
improve the prospects for political moderation in Iraq. The grand ayatollah had
to be seen to win.... Failure was,
however, all too possible. The 24-hour
ceasefire granted by Ayad Allawi, the Iraqi Prime Minister, expires at three
this afternoon, and with it the 'safe passage' offered to Hojatoleslam al-Sadr
if his followers disarm and disperse.
That was a tight deadline in ordered circumstances. The reality is chaos.... The greatest risk is
the survival of the al-Sadr militias....
Saving the shrine is an objective shared by all, but destroying the
Najaf insurgency is key to civil order in Iraq.
The ayatollah was probably the best man for this endgame. But for Iraq's sake, this accord must now be
extended beyond Najaf."
"Sistani Is The Key To Peace In Najaf"
An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph read
(8/27): "Grand Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani can move political mountains....
Now, he faces the toughest test yet of his authority.... His absence during a crucial period when the
young Sadr was left free to act the anti-American firebrand may have dented the
ayatollah's reputation.But he is the only figure capable of mediating between
an interim government which is striving to acquire a monopoly of violence in
Iraq, and the main armed challenge to its authority.... Today, it may become
clearer as to whether the deal proclaimed last night is acceptable to all
parties involved.... It is vital to the stability of Iraq that the sting be
drawn from the younger man and his supporters.... The neutralising of the
militia, whether the Kurdish peshmerga or those belonging to Sadr and the two
most important Shia parties, is a prerequisite for the holding of free and fair
elections next January. In the confusion
of a shattered Najaf, much hangs on the authority of an elderly Islamic scholar
and teacher whose hitherto calming presence has been sorely missed over three
"Three Men Hold The Fate Of Iraq In Their Hands -- And The
Stakes Remain High"
An editorial in the center-left Independent stated
(8/27): "If ever one man's journey
resembled a desperate last throw of the dice, it was the passage from Basra to
the holy city of Najaf undertaken yesterday by the Grand Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani.... For the Shia faithful, there was no higher authority than
this.... t has to be acknowledged that
the peace plan announced last night appears to differ little from the terms
that were offered by Mr. Allawi before....
But there is one crucial difference: the agreement carries the personal
imprimatur of arguably the most venerated figure in Iraq: Ayatollah
Sistani. The immediate question now is
whether this agreement will hold, and specifically whether Muqtada Sadr retains
sufficient authority over his Mehdi army to cede the Imam Ali shrine.... The risk is of a Mehdi army on the
loose. On the other hand, if control of
the shrine is surrendered peacefully, and intact, to Ayatollah Sistani, this
would constitute a personal triumph for him and enhance his authority
accordingly....The interim government's reluctance to authorise the use of
all-out force to capture the shrine was a pragmatic choice, but a wise one,
requiring a degree of patience and restraint that has been in lamentably short
supply in Iraq.... The peaceful surrender of the shrine, it is happens,
however, would not necessarily mean that Sadr's uprising is over.... Three individuals -- Ayatollah Sistani, the
interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, and the troublesome imam, Muqtada Sadr --
now hold the fate of Iraq in their hands.
One costly crisis appeared last night to have been averted. There will doubtless be many more to
"High Stakes Stand-off"
An editorial in the left-of-center Guardian
(8/23): "Over the last
month, Najaf has become the pivotal confrontation of post-war Iraq.…Najaf is no
longer merely a confrontation between U.S. troops and Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi
militia. It has also become the place
where the world outlook of Iraq’s majority Shia populations could be settled for
perhaps a generation.…But the stakes are very high.... What is needed in Najaf
is for the interests of majority Shia opinion - which still supports neither
the Mehdi army nor the Americans - to prevail.
If that involves a setback for the U.S. and for the Allawi government,
then so be it. The outcome in Najaf will
shape the balance of power in whatever Iraqi society and state emerges from the
current insecurity. But it could even
settle the question of whether t is possible for a workable Iraqi state to
survive at all within the existing borders.
We may want Najaf resolved - but it should not at any price.
"Allawi Must Face Down The Militias In
The conservative Daily Telegraph had this view (8/20): “By adding his voice yesterday to those of his
ministers who have demanded the disarming of the Mahdi Army militia, Mr. Allawi
put his own political future, and indeed that of Iraq itself, on the
line.... The disbanding of the militia
would not only strengthen Mr. Allawi’s hand.
It would also create the conditions for the holding of democratic
elections next January. A campaign
conducted while large numbers of armed men remained outside government control
would be vulnerable to threats of violence and tilt the scales in favor of
those communities, the Shias and the Kurds, which have the strongest
militias. To avoid this outcome,
American forces will have to help Iraqi national guardsmen and policy take on
the challenging task which the CPA shirked....
Seventeen months after the invasion of Iraq, the Americans find
themselves backing, in Mr. Allawi, a man determined to assert his authority
over the country by means of which the occupying powers would not necessarily
have approved. Washington’s ideal of a
democratic model for the rest of the Middle East has become somewhat tarnished
by the brutal necessity of holding a violent, faction-ridden country together.”
FRANCE: "Quiet In
Adrien Jaulmes averred in right-of-center Le
Figaro (8/27): “Ayatollah Sistani has triumphed.… Control of Najaf is more
than just controlling this small city built around the Mosque of Ali. The
symbolic impact of this religious site gives he who controls it immense
spiritual power in the eyes of the faithful… but also authority over the
clerics and their innumerable secular powers… One of the first effects of the
American offensive has been to give Sistani the upper hand. He has left to the
Americans the ungrateful task of chasing the militia from Najaf… But Sistani,
who has opposed every American political plan other than the organization of
free elections in Iraq, has no intention of making the slightest gesture
towards the Americans to thank them for their intervention.”
"The Iraqi Impasse"
Charles Lambroschini commented in
right-of-center Le Figaro (8/23): “The impasse in Najaf is a reflection
of the Iraqi quagmire. The Americans have come to realize that when dealing
with al-Sadr, negotiations may not resume but that escalation will present only
disadvantages. An assault on the Mosque would lead to a general insurrection.
Not a single Shiite in Iraq would refrain from avenging the affront. But on the
other hand the U.S. cannot give in. A
victory granted to al-Sadr would be a green light for rebellion from other
groups.… The disappearance of two French journalists is just one more proof of
the general anarchy that reigns in Iraq.… America’s dilly-dallying has not
helped things. What happened in Falluja serves as a precedent to the present
crisis: in order to get out from under, the Americans handed the keys to the
city to former Saddam followers. Now those who rule this mini-republic are
Jihaddists who have come from the Arab-Muslim world.… Why would al-Sadr leave
Najaf, the latest autonomous enclave? To all Iraqis, whatever their political
and religious affiliation, al-Sadr may be on the verge of becoming an
emblematic unifying agent for having opposed America’s political solution: the
country’s division among its various communities.”
Michel Kubler opined in Catholic La Croix (8/20): “Media coverage of Iraq brings the cities of
Najaf and Karbala, clothed by the Shiite community with a quasi-divine
dimension, before the rest of the world.... There have been and there will
continue to be centuries of conflict and thousands of dead in the name of this
so-called sanctity. Yes,
'so-called.' All due respect to the
sacred places of history, nothing can justify killing in their name. No war, in effect, should call on God.”
GERMANY: "Ruler Al-Sistani"
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
judged (8/27): "The Ayatollah seems to succeed in one thing that neither
the Iraqi transition government nor the U.S. soldiers managed to achieve: Even before the religious leader explained
his peace plan for the Shiite pilgrim city, calm returned.... Not in the heavily-guarded government quarter
but in a very modest al-Sistani house in Najaf is the most important political
center of the country. But this will not
remain so. Al-Sistani uses his political
influence on a regular basis, but he basically refuses to transfer power to the
scholars of the law like in Iran. Thus
far, al-Sistani has prevented the Americans and Iraqi politicians from
monopolizing him. His reputation has
grown further with his march to Najaf.
This will result in even more Iraqis asking for his opinion. Al-Sistani already expressed his
dissatisfaction with the position of Islam and the special rights for the Kurds
in the transition constitution. He will
soon formulate his views more clearly.
But then he will not only be cheered at like during his return on
Business-oriented Handelsblatt of
Duesseldorf argued (8/27): "It will be wise for a-Sistani to ban the
military and thus hopefully all forms of violence from Najaf. The Iraqi government already announced a
24-hour cease-fire and now the coalition forces should also withdraw from the
holy city. This may be difficult after
the heavy losses over the past three weeks, but it is the only way to create a climate
of understanding. Al-Sistani is pinning
his hopes on the roots of Shiite teaching, and this preaches political
abstinence, not revolution. The
different model in Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini may serve as a warning example
for al-Sistani, for the reputation of the religious leaders has suffered mainly
because they have gone to the dregs of politics. The consequence is a perceptible loss of
Matthias Arning said in left-of-center Frankfurter
Rundschau (8/27): "At issue are the prospects for a better future for
the country that has been worn out by long years of a dictatorship and by
war. The key to a different Iraq mainly
lies in the hands of the Shiite majority.
They must send out a signal to the radical inner-Iraqi rebels: there can be no democratic perspective if
violence is used. A democracy offers a
hope for the future, time is necessary to make possible a tough, but not
violent wrestling for a political future.
At the moment, it is important to appease the outraged; to encourage the
disappointed, and to disarm the ones who use violence. This is the task with which the beacon of
hope, al-Sistani is directly confronted.
His mission will be decisive for the power of political authorities, the
old man must take advantage of the moment and, at the same time, call for
"Power And Mosque"
Rudolph Chimelli penned the following editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche
Zeitung of Munich (8/26): "If the keys for the holy mosque are really
handed over to Ayatollah al-Sistani...then this symbolic transfer can also be
the key to the current crisis in Iraq....
With his 'March to Burning Najaf,' al-Sistani is trying to get back control
over a mass movement which he was about to lose, since Muktada al-Sadr
succeeded in radicalizing mainly poor Shiites.... The occupiers managed to drive the Shiites
from a position of benevolent neutrality into an open enmity.... Al-Sistani's demand to al-Sadr's fighters to
leave the mosque and to the Americans to go, corresponds exactly with this
mood.... Al-Sadr's rebellion personifies
a trend in Iraq that can no longer be ignored.
For the first time, a national element is mixing with a political one.... But irrespective of the outcome of the
showdown, one loser is already clear right now:
the head of the provisional government, Allawi. If he budges, he will lose his credibility,
if he asserts his view, based on U.S. forces, he will finally turn into a
puppet in the eyes of the Iraqis.... So
far, Allawis' rule has not been a success.
He is unable to cope with resistance....
Every day, the staff of the coalition registers 40 'enemy
activities.' The U.S. forces...are
moving on main routes and in convoys protected by tanks and helicopters. A 'safer and better place,' which Iraq has
become according to Britain's Prime Minister Blair, would look different"
Jacques Schuster wrote in a front-page editorial in
right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/26): "The power struggle in Najaf is coming
to an end - and hopefully gets off lightly.
An invisible third person is about to resolve the conflict with his methods:
with the moderate, well-conceived power of his authority.... Al-Sistani is now stopping the looming
myth-making of Muktad al-Sadr. With his
call upon all Shiites to march with him to Najaf and to expel all fighters from
the holy shrine, he forces al-Sadr and his minions to surrender without siding
with the Americans. The conflict cannot
be resolved in a better way.... The
ayatollah again gained power. In Iraq,
there is no way around him."
"Without Allies In Iraq"
Frank Herold remarked in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(8/26): "The U.S. government hoped
for Ayatollah al-Sistani who was considered a man who acted with circumspection
and was able to make compromises.... He
was supposed to mediate and organize a handover of the holy shrine in Najaf. But he is obviously not thinking about doing
the Americans this favor. Instead, he
called upon the Shiite to march to Najaf to protect the holy shrine from
international violent acts. This is now
creating new problems for the American soldiers in Najaf. But it also shows that the occupying agencies
do not have allies and do not enjoy support in Iraq, apart from the members of
the so-called government whose members are risking their lives as soon as they
leave the high-security part of Baghdad in which they have entrenched together
with the occupation agencies."
"Waiting For The Savior"
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland editorialized
(8/26): "If there is really someone
who can end the bloody battle between the rebellious militia forces and Iraqi
and U.S. government forces, then it is Ayatollah al-Sistani: with words, not
with guns…. As paradoxical as it may
sound but his appeal to the Iraqis to march to Najaf offers a chance. If he calls upon the people to save the
'burning city,' then this sounds as if he supported the fight of the preacher
of hatred, al-Sadr, against the Americans.
But as a matter of fact, this could be an embrace that will weigh down
the rival. In the past, al-Sistani
showed that he did not allow anyone to speak for him. That is why al-Sadr cannot like the conflict
to become a matter for al-Sistani.
Al-Sadr is not strong enough for an open revolt against the religious
leader. If al-Sistani demands to lay
down arms, al-Sadr will have no other choice but to obey. Or he will place himself outside of
"Losers From Najaf"
Martina Doering held in an editorial in
left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (8/23): "Total confusion is
prevailing in Najaf. If this affected
only the news coming out of the city, this would not be so tragic. But obviously, the U.S. military leadership,
the Mahdi fighters, and the Iraqi government are confused, even though they
continue to bomb, fight, and give orders.
All three consider the things they are doing right now a decisive
battle.... But what kind of victory will
it be if the Imam Ali Mosque and the Holy Shrine will remain unscathed? To the Muslims it was demonstrated that the
Americans do not show consideration for anything. The next message is that a minor militia
group can tease a large military power for such a long time. And with this, the victory will turn into a
defeat. It may be possible that calm
will return after the battles, but there will be new people of al-Sadr's
nature. The people in Najaf and the
majority of Iraqis will not like this trouble makers, but after every new
battle, they will hate the U.S liberators even more."
"Injustice And Disorder"
Right-of-center Muenchener Merkur carried
an editorial by Werner Menner stating (8/23): "On a daily basis it is
coming to haunt the United States…that it ignored the fact to think about the
'day after' in the shadow of its military showing off of power in Iraq. The winners created the fertile ground on
which the preacher of hate, al-Sadr, can now base his work. Al-Sadr, who knows all tricks, turned into a
nightmare long ago: for the Baghdad government under President Allawi, which is
about to lose the rest of its credibility, but also for the U.S. forces that
cannot afford to use all means in Najaf in the fight against al-Sadr."
Bahman Nirumand opined in leftist die tageszeitung of
Berlin (8/20): "Even if his
opponents kept their word and allowed him to withdraw together with his
fighters, al-Sadr would be a nobody without arms and his militia forces. As a spiritual leader he will be unable to
claim his position towards the ayatollahs, and the same would be true for his
position as politician against the existing political parties and
organizations. The proposal to transform
his 'Mahdi Forces' into a political party is absurd, for his militia forces,
which are politically and fundamentally religiously indoctrinated, could fight
on the battlefield but they would be totally unsuited for the political
arena. Thus far, it has been al-Sadr's
function to thwart the plans of the United States and the Iraqi transition
government. In this capacity, he
received support from diverse forces in Iraq and from other countries that are
interested in a failure of the Americans in Iraq. If he loses this function, nobody will care
any longer about him. In view of these
prospects, the only thing that remains for al-Sadr is to die as martyr. These are not very good prospects for a
"On Shaky Ground"
Center-right Westfaelische Nachrichten of Muenster
commented (8/20): "Again Iraq is at
a watershed. Does democracy have a
serious chance in the country? A
government that is able to assert its view only with an iron fist stands on
shaky ground. In addition to the
rebellious Shiites, there are other important resistance groups in the country,
for instance also among the Sunnis. The
trench warfare in the National Council...cast a light on the social
fragmentation in Iraq. If al-Sadr
succeeds in causing the feared conflagration with is death as martyr, Iraq
threatens to disintegrate. The peaceful,
democratic country, which George W. Bush promised, rather seems to be a mirage
for most Iraqis today."
ITALY: "The Revenge Of
Bernardo Valli opined in left-leaning,
influential La Repubblica (8/27): “In Najaf...an unarmed ayatollah with
great moral authority brokered a deal in only a few hours’ time.… In exchange,
the Americans must leave the city and the Iraqi police must restore order.
We’ll see how the agreement between the ayatollah and the young Sadr develops. But
it’s already clear that an outsider succeeded where the U.S.-nominated
government of Ayad Allawi failed. al-Sistani exercises tremendous political
influence, as he is the leading religious leader of the Shiite community.
Sistani has never wanted to meet personally with the Americans, nor has he ever
given his blessing to the Baghdad government supported by them. … He intervened
at the right time, with wisdom. Once the rebels were exhausted and decimated,
he convinced them to lay down their arms. He demonstrated that only he, and not
the foreigners or the government that they support, could bring an end to the
revolt. The agreement was reached ‘between Iraqis.’ al-Sistani’s success
underscores Allawi’s impotence, even though the new prime minister, as well as
the Americans, can momentarily breathe a sigh of relief.”
"Sistani Returns And Orders: Shiites, March On Najaf"
Gian Micalessin reasoned in pro-government,
leading center-right Il Giornale (8/26): “Now Ali Sistani could be the
one to put things back in order. Marching on the shrine and initiating talks
will take away the taste of victory from the Americans and the government, but
it will also remove the embarrassment of a possible massacre. In exchange
Sistani will regain much of his faded authority. While waiting for Moqtada’s
defeat he will be recognized as the sole Shiite authority, but he will be
suspected of collaborating with the Americans."
"Najaf, Iraqi Troops Close In"
Renzo Cianfanelli stated in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (8/25): “The ultimatum of
ultimatums--the fifteenth in three weeks--in Najaf: ‘Withdraw from the shrine
and lay down your arms, otherwise you will be destroyed,’ blasts the Iraqi
National Guard. The leaders of the Shiite rebels retort ‘we are ready to negotiate
for peace. Moqtada al-Sadr is here with us in Najaf.’ It’s impossible to tell
whether the claim is true.… If the leader is in Najaf then why doesn’t he come
out? Meanwhile, the civilian population is terrorized and continues to flee.…
There is clearly a strategic plan to destroy the new government. Yesterday’s
attacks were designed to damage the two ministries in which reforms have been
the most successful - particularly the Ministry of Education.”
“In Najaf Iraqi Guard Poises For Final Attack”
Gian Micalessin remarked in pro-government,
leading center-right Il Giornale (8/25): “The holy city of Najaf is once
again a ghost town.… Fighting has resumed.… The final battle seems imminent,
and conceivably essential given the dithering of the twenty-day siege, the
ultimatums that were never respected.… A bloody ending, however, would not
behoove anyone. It wouldn’t be advantageous for Moqtada Sadr, since he is not
that mad to prefer martyrdom to a future as a leader. And it wouldn’t be
advantageous for a reluctant government to cross the threshold of the
inviolable ‘sancta sanctorum.’ A final
attack also implies a double risk. The first violating a sacred Shiite.… The
second...the massacre of civilians inside the shrine. The building is filled
with the wives and children of Sadr’s followers and an attack could turn into a
massacre broadcast to the entire Muslim world by Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabya. It
would be a chilling scenario for Allawi and his aides who are trying to find a
"Crossing The Red Line"
Alberto Negri noted in leading business daily Il
Sole-24 Ore (8/21): “If it’s true that the majority of the [Iraqi]
population would like peace and stability, and therefore are not particularly
fond of the fundamentalists, it is also certain that the last few months did
not furnish Iraq with security and economic reconstruction. Many do not like
Sadr, but just as many are resentful of the occupying forces. The threshold of
Ali’s shrine...is a metaphor of the Iraqi situation: the Americans cannot enter
as they would violate the religious and national sentiments of an entire
population, but they remain on the outside because they did not succeed in
conquering the hearts and minds of the Iraqis. They have committed grave
errors, thereby alienating the Shiites.… They [the Americans] were not
successful in erasing from their [Shiites’] minds the betrayal of Bush the
Father, when he incited them to rebel against the regime in ’91 and then left
them to their tragic destiny.… It is now being said that the keys to the shrine
of Ali will be given to Sistani. It is a symbolic gesture for the sake of
finding a peaceful solution. But there
is...only one way out: the acknowledgment of the complexity of the Shiite
issue...and to restore Iraq to the Iraqis.”
"Allawi’s Day Of Reckoning"
Maurizio Molinari’s concluded in centrist, influential La
Stampa (8/20): “Iraqi
PM Iyad Allawi’s ultimatum to rebel leader Moqtada al-Sadr could be intended as
a desire to end the guerrilla war, which continues to undermine the country’s
stability, almost seventeen months after Saddam was toppled.... Allawi is striving to obtain his first
military victory and accomplish three goals.
First: to control the largest
front of the guerrilla war, which includes Sunni Baathist loyalists and
al-Qaida cells, led by Abu Musa al-Zarqawi.
Second: to assert his political
position as the most powerful, ruthless leader of the post-Saddam era. Third:
to make Tehran understand that it is time to stop interfering in Iraq’s
southern region and thereby sending the same message to Damascus. Should Allawi win the Battle of Najaf, his
prestige will resound throughout the capitals of the region, otherwise, if
al-Sadr succeeds in making fool of him, Allawi’s legitimacy would be
irreparably weakened.... The Bush
administration has a direct interest in Allawi’s victory.... A stable Iraq in early November means a
better chance when Americans go to vote for their new president.”
"Najaf On A Knife’s Edge"
Siegmund Ginzberg noted in pro-Democratic Left party (DS) daily L’Unità
(8/20): “Uncertainty...over Najaf has
never been whether the U.S. war machine is able to wipe out the one-thousand
militia of Mahdi’s shabby army, barricaded around Imam Ali’s sanctuary.... The credibility of Iyad Allawi’s provisional
government is at stake, but with his reiterated ultimatums...he lost his first
occasion to legitimize. What makes him
think that al-Sadr’s tattered militia represents a more dangerous threat for
the future of Iraq than the former Baathist loyalists or the terrorist in
Fallujah? Or, in spite of any formal
appearance of sovereignty...did Washington convince the provisional
government...that ‘al-Sadr is not to be trusted,’ as NSA Condoleezza Rice
RUSSIA: "A Bloodless Settlement To Help
Sistani Get Rid Of Rival"
Leonid Gankin commented in business-oriented Kommersant
(8/27): "Far from all Shiites in Iraq support radical leader Moqtada
al-Sadr. Many realize that, as they are
holding defenses at Najaf, the militants are putting one of the principal Shia
shrines at risk. Others may think
differently, seeing the defenders as a bunch of martyrs protecting a shrine from
infidels.... Moqtada al-Sadr has more
than once stated that he would only cede the shrine to his co-religionists with
Ayatollah Sistani at the head. With Sistani back, he will have to leave. This story may have far-reaching consequences
for all interested parties. To Moqtada
al-Sadr, a bloodless settlement of the conflict would mean a crushing defeat
from which he may never recover.
Conversely, Ayatollah Sistani would gain a national status, becoming a
headache for the Americans, who bet on other leaders."
"Sistani The Peacemaker"
Aleksandr Timonin observed in official
government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (8/27): "Sistani is known to have
been opposed to foreign presence, which is not to say that he approves of
violence in dealing with the occupation forces. While not sharing al-Sadr's
radical stand, Sistani has to reckon with him as long as he enjoys widespread
support inside the country."
"What's Left Of Iraq"
Mikhail Zygar contended in reformist weekly Vlast
(8/23): "The fact that the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish Triangles are virtually
separating from new Iraq will hardly explode the myth of that country being
slowly but steadily democratized. The
Iyad Allawi interim government, parliament, police, and other attributes of a
full-blooded state will function wherever the U.S. troops can protect
them. A similar situation is in
Afghanistan where President Hamid Karzai, his security ensured by foreign
troops, controls downtown Kabul, with field commanders in charge of the rest of
the country. As field commanders from time to time fight wars among themselves,
thecentral government is helpless to do anything about it. The only difference is that, unlike Iraq,
which has oil as the main source of income, Afghanistan has drugs. Iraq has yet to get the hang of what
Afghanistan has been through over the past few years: anarchy in the provinces
will go away, replaced by leaders who will be independent of Kabul. At the same time, the international community
will hail the development of democratic institutions, with presidential and
general elections scheduled for January. But the new democracy is going to be
small and include protected sections of oil pipelines, the Green Zone in
Baghdad, and possibly the Abu Ghraib prison."
"Al-Sadr Doesn't Keep His Word"
Yevgeniy Shestakov said on the front page of
reformist Izvestiya (8/23): "Armed supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr
continue to deny access to the Ali tomb for government troops. Nor will they let in moderate Shia leaders
in spite of agreements reached to date.
Al-Sadr lied again when he said that the militants would leave the
place.... Disarming the Mahdi army
remains to be the chief stumbling block in behind-the-scene negotiations
between al-Sadr and the Iraqi government."
"The Price Of Freedom"
Yelena Suponina wrote in reformist Vremya Novostey
(8/19): "Referring to the
(national) conference, the Americans called it a very important event. It was supposed to show the Iraqis marching
confidently to the sought-after sovereignty.
But the latest events, primarily the Moqtada al-Sadr revolt in the
south, have marred the picture. The
situation remains very complicated....
Snuffing out the Shia unrest in Najaf does not mean averting a relapse
of Sunni disturbances in Fallujah, near Baghdad."
AUSTRIA: "Sistani Tries A Stroke Of
Foreign affairs editor for liberal daily Der
Standard Gudrun Harrer editorialized (8/27): “Sistani’s action would be a stroke of
genius--provided it succeeds. It cannot be overlooked that the decision to
embark on this great ‘march’ towards Najaf, will also benefit him.… A risk
remains though: Neither the U.S army nor
the Iraqi interim government are really in control of the situation. There will
be further attempts at escalation by the radicals, and the Iraqi government
harbors a strong desire to do away with the Sadr specter once and for all.…
Actually, Sistani’s interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi will use the opportunity
to clear the table by ousting not just the Mehdi army but also all others,
especially the Americans. This is politically unpleasant for them, but they are
used to that kind of thing in Iraq.
After all, they are not turning the city over to a gang of radicals like
in Falluja, but to Sistani who gave the government they installed a
chance. But Allawi will also in a way be
saved - from himself. He would not have been able to survive a destroyed Imam
Ali mosque politically. On Thursday, he
had no other choice than to defer to Sistani’s authority and send a ministerial
delegation to welcome him on his return. One can be sure that Sistani will file
his claims concerning elections in Baghdad in the near future."
Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer opined in
liberal Der Standard (8/23): “The
resolution to the conflict around the Imam Ali-Mosque in Najaf, already
announced for Friday, did not materialize over the weekend. The battle, news of
which is largely kept from the public because few media representatives are on
the battleground, continues to produce ‘martyrs’, a legacy which the Americans
and the new Iraqi leadership will have to deal with for years to come.… It is
not certain that his followers would support Moktada al-Sadr if he gave in.
Perhaps that was what happened on Friday - that he was prepared to give up, but
the Mehdi army, which by accounts is a loosely organized entity, was not. But
on the other hand, the positions are not so clear-cut. The government of Prime
Minister Iyad Allawi likely only half-heartedly supported the National
Conference’s attempts at brokering a deal with the Shiite leader. Allawi had to
allow this to save the Conference. Only the fact that both events we re
happening at the same time prevented a decisive military solution in Najaf. But
the longer this situation continues, the clearer it emerges who actually calls
the shots. While only a week ago people talked about Iraqi security forces,
they now state clearly that it is the U.S army that is only a few hundred
meters away from the Imam Ali Mosque."
"Sistani Will Have Obtained A Quid Pro Quo"
Foreign editor Gerald Papy in conservative
Catholic La Libre Belgique commented (8/27): "The outcome that
Shiite leader al-Sistani has negotiated in Iraq will have a price for the Iraqi
government and its American protectors.
It boosts the power of this leader who.....has maintained his influence
that is taken more and more into consideration.... History will show the quid
pro quo that Grand Ayatollah Sistani has obtained for playing the role of
providential savior in Najaf. The
religious leader's status as a mediator when the political and military camps
are confronted with an obstacle in the Shiite community has been
confirmed. His reputation as an
apolitical leader - for which there is no counterpart in the Kurdish and
Sunnite communities - will certainly cause envy and resentment, especially now
that the outcome in Najaf will not necessarily eliminate Moqtada al-Sadr's
impact on the pacification process in Iraq.
To achieve that solution the religious extremist should first disarm his
militia and transform it into a political movement that is willing to cooperate
with the government."
"Najaf Is A Social Issue"
Chief Middle East correspondent Herbert Pundik
noted in center-left Politiken (8/23): “The battle for the control of
Najaf is not a military problem and cannot be won by force. The root of the problem is social. We are currently experiencing the first signs
of a social protest that will outlive al-Sadr.”
"Inclusive Iraq Government"
Centrist Kristeligt Dagblad judged (8/23):
“The Iraqi government ought to do everything to include militia leaders in the
"Al-Sadr Is Not All Iraq"
Leading regional daily, right-of-center Aamulehti
held (8/24): "Which of the
developments is more true. Last week, the Iraqi national convention was
able to elect an interim parliament. At
the same time insurgents continue their fighting in Najaf. Iraq has stabilized
somewhat since Iyad Allawi's government
took over. The government can even
consider it a slight victory that it has been able to contain the fighting in
an ever smaller area. Not all Shiites
back al-Sadr -- some would like to give the government a chance."
HUNGARY: "They Would Protect Ali’s Thumb
With Their Own Body"
Foreign affairs writer Hesna Al Ghaoui observed in in top
circulation Nepszabadsag (8/25): “Ninety-five million Shiite are
watching worldwide whether the thumb of Imam Ali, the Shiite’s first and most
important religious leader, remains untouched or not. Najaf has become the
[pilgrimage] destination of the dead too. Under the walls of the city, more
dead are said to be resting than in any other burial places of the world. The
Shiite world is anxious about the presence of foreign soldiers on this piece of
land. The Sunnis also recognize the Imam a caliph. Many Sunni leaders also
urged that the Mosque be protected. It is therefore understandable that events,
such as gun-fight around the Mausoleum can be interpreted as a jeopardy to the
unique heritage. The Holy See indicated
last week that it was also ready to
mediate in this very tense situation with the aim to prevent a clash that could
have unpredictable consequences. Even a civil war can break out. Or anything
else can happen.”
NORWAY: "The Fighting In Najaf Is A
The newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented
(8/24): "The long-lasting fights
and the unresolved situation in Iraq is a growing burden for President George
W. Bush. His reference to political progress and to the planned elections early
next year loses credibility when the new government cannot get a grip on the
country’s problems. What we see in Iraq
are groups and people struggling for power when the United States withdraws. It
is exactly this uncertainty around when this is going to happen, and what the
actual conditions for this type of withdrawal are, that contributes to keeping
the struggle alive. And it is a struggle
that is still led more with loaded weapons than with vote slips - quite the
contrary of the promises of a democratic Iraq.”
Tomasz Bielecki opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza
(8/19): “Has Moqtada al-Sadr lost? Not at all.
Pushed to the wall, he dodged and agreed to negotiate. Thanks to the ineptitude of politicians
connected with the United States and al-Sadr’s blind anti-Americanism, he has
already become one of the most popular Iraqi Shiites. No wonder he demands more influence on those
who rule.... Is it the end of the Shia
rebellion? Not at all. Soon we will hear about a third and a fourth
rebellion by al-Sadr followers. A fight
at the negotiation table, supplemented by a street fight with Kalashnikovs as
'arguments' is a Middle East specialty.
This peaceful-wartime consultation stands the best chance to end in a
compromise, [to] civilize Moqtada and bring him into the world of real
politics. How to the help the Iraqi
people do that? It is best not to
interfere. Let them negotiate and fight
with al-Sadr on their own.”
Left-of-center El País wrote (8/27):
"An assault on Ali's mausoleum, directly or indirectly through Iraqi
forces, would have caused an uprising by all the Shiites. But not to do anything would have sent a
message of weakenss from the U.S. and the interim government. In this situation, Sistani's return, more
than being providential, was induced.
But this step makes clear a certain impotence of the U.S., whose representatives
have never received Sistani since the invasion.... The fight in Najaf has been not only between
al-Sadr and the U.S. and the new interim government, but among Shiites fighting
for power in the future Iraq."
"Ayatollah Sistani's Double Game"
Independent El Mundo held (8/27):
"It's paradoxical that the U.S. has entrusted to the hands of a religious
leader like Sistani the control of the disturbance. Nobody in Washington expected at the
beginning of the war that the main pitfall for Iraqi pacification would be the
Shiites, the main victims of Saddam's cruelty. But the awful management of the
postwar and al-Sadr's appearance have made it so that the U.S. has stepped into
a sticky wad of chewing gum which it can't get clear of."
"Najaf, Crossroads For Iraq"
Conservative ABC stated (8/26): "In
the fight to control Najaf, there is only one acceptable result: Al-Sadr's defeat and the disbanding of his
militia....This messianic priest without prestige in the Shiite community...is
looking for a civil war between Shiites and for the destabilization of the
interim Iraqi institutions.... al-Sadr's
violence is not legitimate but purely terrorist....Although it seems a
contradiction, al-Sadr's disturbance is a consequence not of the foreign military
presence in Iraq, but rather of the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein, who
for decades buried with blood and fire any dissidence. What motivates this
priest's ambitions is the expectation that a democratic and representative
power can be established in Iraq.
Al-Sadr's state model looks to the fundamentalist Republic of Iran
instead of democracy as far as individual freedom is concerned.... Tactical mistakes by the U.S. in the postwar,
with the horror of Abu Ghraib foremost among them, have also fomented the
visceral support...that al-Sadr receives from the most disadvantaged social
sectors and those most sensitive to nationalist addresses. But if Washington can be reproached for
anything, it is for not having put an end to al-Sadr's disturbance earlier.... Even though European anti-Americanism
rejoices at Al-Sadr - as it does with anything that opposes the U.S. - his
defeat is necessary to iron out the road to democracy in Iraq."
"Najaf As An 'Internal Matter'"
Conservative La Razon wrote (8/25):
"Allawi is managing to resolve one of the potentially most dangerous
crises for Iraq's future stability. And
he is managing it with an undeniable skill, combining the military power of the
Americans with the political offensive that 'nationalizes' the fight with the
rebel preacher.... If, during this last
negotiation, he achieves the surrender of al-Sadr's followers without bloodshed
and the submission of the shrine to representatives of the moderate Shiites, he
will have a very important hand for the future."
"The City Of Najaf"
Editor Jose Antonio Vera asserted in
conservative La Razon (8/23): "Najaf was a city punished by Saddam
during years. In fact, the citizens of Najaf should be devoted to the U.S.
forces, that liberated them from the yoke of the tyrant. But they don't seem to be devoted. One part of them has rebelled against the
U.S. And we don't really know why. Or
perhaps we do. It may be because the U.S. has not had the ability to give them
the confidence that they are asking for."
"The Earthquake In Nayaf Shakes Muslim World"
Independent El Mundo stated (8/21):
"The pact with Sistani can be the beginning of the calming down of a
crisis skillfully used by al-Sadr.... His behavior has been unpredictable up to
now and is still a cause for concern. It's less probable that he will want to
or he be able to renew his movement into a political candidacy...so it's
foreseeable that his confrontation with the allies and the interim Government
will continue sinking the country in anxiety.... The invasion of Iraq not only hasn't pacified
Iraq, but has caused a continuous source of problems in a strategic
region. The serious crisis of Najaf has
taken away credibility from the interim government. With the problem of this conflict, the
expected calendar of elections in January 2005 seems an incredible fiction.
Much more real are the deaths in Najaf, whose citizens now should be thinking in voting and not in following a
preacher who only advocates combat and martyrdom."
TURKEY: "Iraq Moves
Toward National Resistance"
Hasan Unal argued in Islamist-intellectual Zaman
(8/27): “The current situation in Iraq shows a clear miscalculation by the U.S.
side. Even in the beginning, there were
no Iraqis to greet U.S. forces with roses and cheers. The U.S. plan to bring democracy to Iraq is also
far from convincing. This is an act of
occupation, which is losing international support with every passing day.… The
growing resistance in Iraq is beginning to look like a national movement. It has the potential to begin a trend toward
nationalization throughout the Arab world.
It is quite possible to see a nationalist process in all of the Arab
countries, especially if and when the US launches its Greater Middle East and
North Africa project.… Unlike the Balkans, the concepts of the nation state and
nationhood did not take root in the Middle East geography. The Arab countries became independent in the
post-World War II period, but very few of them fought for independence like
Algeria did against the French.
Nationalist feelings were always suspended under totalitarian
regimes. But there are now signs that a
national resistance movement, taking advantage of the U.S. weakness in Iraq,
might change the fate of the Middle East.”
"Underestimating The Shiites"
Hakan Celik commented in mass-appeal sensational
Posta (8/27): “The U.S. has made many miscalculations about Iraq. The underestimation of the Shi'ite resistance
is one of the biggest ones. U.S. forces
are having a very hard time controlling the Najaf uprising. The loss of civilian lives because of
American operations there is certainly a major reason for the growing outrage
among Shiites. The worst part is the
fact that the outrage is not limited to militants, but extends to ordinary
Iraqis as well. American forces continue
their operations near sacred Shiite shrines, which is a big risk. Shiite militants are also capable of trapping
the Americans by dragging them toward the sacred areas so that they manage to
provoke more Iraqis against US forces.
The current American image in Iraq is very negative, and includes the
perception that U.S. forces are willing to bomb shrines and mosques in pursuit
of their goals. This is a very ominous
development for Washington.”
"The U.S. Is Finished In Iraq”
Fatih Altayli argued in mass-appeal Hurriyet
(8/26): “The influence of Ayatollah
Sistani in the Shiite community is very important. Al-Sadr’s capacity to lead a popular
resistance is also significant. The main
difference between the two is in terms of approach: Sistani has advocated a
temporary collaboration with the U.S., while al-Sadr has stood for violent
struggle. Sistani has retained his
influence within the Shiite community, but the development of al-Sadr’s
resistance and the U.S. response has helped Al-Sadr to become more powerful
than Sistani. The mistakes of the U.S.
have clearly created fertile ground for the more radical figure and weakened
moderate leaders like Sistani.… Considering the current situation, Sistani is
now changing his tone as well. He has
called on Shiites to march on Najaf and to support al-Sadr’s group. This is going to make things even tougher for
the U.S. Finishing the job in Iraq will
be very difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. now. Turkey should formulate its Iraq policy by
taking into account the fact that the U.S. is mired in a serious
"Iraq And U.S. Mistakes"
Ferai Tinc observed in mass-appeal Hurriyet
(8/23): “It seems impossible for the coalition or the Iraqis to gain control of
the situation in Najaf, whether through political or military means. The CIA-sponsored Iraqi leader Allawi comes
from an influential and powerful Iraqi family, but even he has failed to bring
the situation under control. The Najaf
resistance was initially presented as a terrorist group. Time has now shown that it is a popular
resistance movement. This is only one of
many mistakes made in Iraq, including the miscalculations of the Iraqi people
and the Iraqi opposition. The U.S.
provided all kinds of support to Ahmad Chalabi.
When the mistake was realized, it was already too late. Support for Iranian-backed Al-Hakim was
another big mistake. The people of Iraq
preferred an independent Shiite figure, i.e. Sadr, as opposed to the
Iranian-backed Hakim.… Iraq is rapidly toward a period in which more conflicts
are likely. Looking for ways to establish a balance in
the current situation is very difficult.
There is no authority in Iraq that can unite the complex interests of
all groups Can the U.S. be this
authority? It is far too late for
that. American military forces cannot
even establish full control over Baghdad, yet alone set up a lasting political
"Conquering Hearts And Minds"
Ali Aslan wrote from Washington in
Islamist-intellectual Zaman (8/23): “The Bush administration sees many
similarities between the Cold War and the ongoing war against terrorism. However, the US has failed to invest
politically, intellectually and financially on this issue. NSC Adviser Rice recently gave examples of
how bright Americans who spoke Russian and other languages in the region were
influential in the process of the demise of Soviet Union. Yet today, Washington does not have a single
government expert who knows Islamic culture well and speaks regional
languages. This goes for prominent
American universities as well. … Rice also mentioned the administration’s
efforts to focus more on non-military issues such as tolerance, acceptance of
the other, and encouraging political participation of community
representatives. The problem is that
this approach remains on paper, because the military and security effort
continues to dominate. … The US should start begin trying to win hearts and
minds in the Islamic world. Otherwise
its policies, which have taken into account only terrorism and fanaticism, are
doomed to fail.”
"Regarding Iraq, The Address For Turkey Is Washington, Not
Zafer Atay wrote in the political-economic Dunya
(8/20): “The visit of Iraqi interim
President Al-Yawer to Ankara failed to meet Ankara’s high hopes on issues like
the fight against the PKK in northern Iraq, the status of Kirkuk, the Turkomen
problem, and the oil-for-exports trade deal.
The visit ended with zero gain for Ankara. We found an Iraqi figure ready [to listen to]
our requests and proposals, but one who refrained from making any
commitments.... In order to understand
the reality, we should first look at the status of Iraq. Despite the ‘transfer of sovereignty,’ Iraq
is still under occupation. The U.S.
still has the full control over political and military authority in the
country. Thus Turkey’s requests should be
addressed to Washington, not to the Iraqi administration. Washington now has enough trouble in Iraq,
and has neither the time nor the enthusiasm to listen to our requests. Moreover, it is not in the U.S. interest to
meet Turkish demands. The Bush administration
is trying to arrange a three-way federation system in Iraq--Kurds in the north,
Sunnis in the Baghdad area, and Shiites in the south. Washington does not want to see Ankara in
this picture, knowing that Turkey is against this American plan for Iraq’s
"The Najaf Curse!!!"
Samih Shbayb asserted in independent Al-Ayyam
(8/27): “Sistani’s action this time is an attempt to absorb Muqtada Sadr’s
authority even if this is at the expense of the sustainability of Allawi’s
government’s and his defense minister.
The initiative now is in the hands of Muqtada Sadr who seems to be wise
and strict.... Thus, Sadr is expected to accept Sistani’s initiative through a
pleasant public reconciliation that would also demand that the attackers,
including the Americans and their agents in the interim Iraqi government, be
held accountable. With regard to Sadr’s
new position, the Iraqi Shi’ites will increasingly embrace the view that
fighting and resisting the American occupier are a must and that problems can
then be solved [internally] without any foreign influence. As a result, who is the winner and who is the
loser in the Najaf war, and on whom has the curse fallen?
"Iraq At A Crossroads"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized
(8/26): "It seems that the security
forces in Iraq, supported by U.S. military arsenal, have not been able to
control the situation in Iraq. No
solution has been found, and no political initiatives have been undertaken to
resolve the crisis. Instead, only
conditions have been set without real action.
This is what has shaken the credibility of these forces, and that of the
foreign forces that support them. This
deterioration in security conditions has led Al-Sistani to come back as a
rescuer. His initiative will give
religious groups power over their political counterparts. We are waiting to learn about the initiative
of Al-Sistani. We are waiting to see
what will happen in Iraq, and what will be the fate of the multi national
coalition that has obviously lost control of the situation."
"Dialogue, Not Fighting"
Jeddah’s moderate Okaz editorialized
(8/25): "Iraqis must wake up and
realize that they need to replace the fighting with dialogue. They should respect the new government and
get involved in a peaceful political dialogue despite obstacles. National unity is the only weapon that would
keep Iraq steadfast against its challenges and enemies. Iraqis should not waste this chance. We call upon all Iraqis to put their guns
down and arm themselves with wisdom and logic instead. Otherwise their country will become a
"The War Of Najaf"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina
editorialized (8/22): "U.S.
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice addressed the U.S. Institute of
Peace and discussed her country’s determination to exert every effort to improve
its image and develop its relations with the Islamic world. This talk actually conflicts with the tragic
events of Najaf. We mean the ongoing
attacks against the holy sites of Najaf and its dwellers that took the lives of
several hundred innocent civilian people.
The generals of the Pentagon are committing a grave mistake when they
view military escalation as an ideal and appropriate solution to end the crisis
of Najaf.... The U.S. cannot improve its
image, neither in Iraq nor in the larger Islamic and Arab worlds, except
through an end to the use of force to impose a de facto situation on a nation
under occupation. The U.S.
administration must develop a timetable to withdraw from Iraq."
"The Desired Stability In Iraq"
Dammam’s moderate Al-Yaum opined
(8/22): "Iraqi citizens must
support every action taken by the interim Iraqi government to reduce the circle
of fighting in Iraqi cities and to stop the ongoing bloodshed. These steps will
enable the government to take the nation out of the current complicated crisis
to become a secure and stable country. The U.N is required also to assist the
interim government to meet its political obligations and to rebuild the
"Between Buddha And Imam Ali"
Arabic-language, large-circulation El Khabar
editorialized (8/22): “When the Afghan
Talibans threatened to destroy the statue of Buddha erected in one of the rocky
mountains in Afghanistan, there was a general outcry from Western countries,
and even the Arabs, who are known to overdo it in issues appealing to the West,
were the first to denounce, condemn, and even threaten. Today, U.S. tanks and planes have transformed
the historical and holy city of Najaf into rubble and ruins, even though it is
full of inhabitants and not a remote statue in a mountain. Yet America considers this to be very normal
since it comes as part of a war waged against a ‘terrorist’ named Moktada
al-Sadr.... Is Buddhism more important than Islam, or Buddha more important
than Imam Ali?”
"Attacks On al-Sadr...Are Only Making Him More Popular"
The official English-language Daily Tribune
observed (Internet Version, 8/22):
"Shiite fighters are still in control of the holy shrine in Najaf
after Iraq’s interim government said it had overcome a bloody uprising by
seizing the Imam Ali Mosque without a shot being fired. Police in Najaf said
they did not control the site, Iraq’s holiest Shiite Muslim shrine.... It is obvious that the U.S.-led coalition
feels threatened by al-Sadr and his militia and wants to eliminate them. The
reasons are obvious. Washington wants a docile, pro-U.S. government in Baghdad
after elections. The biggest obstacle to the creation of a compliant,
pro-American regime in Iraq has been the fact that the Shiites, who make up
about 60 per cent of Iraq’s population, could elect a majority government that
could and if united would defy U.S. wishes. Therefore Washington realises that
elections are too risky.... The only
leaders who carry a lot of weight with Iraqi Shiites are the Grand Ayatollah
Ali al-Sistani and al-Sadr. The grand ayatollah agreed with the coalition that
he would guarantee that the Shiites would remain peaceful if the U.S. ensures
free elections in Iraq early next year. But al-Sadr, being a young firebrand
leader, worried the coalition and to guarantee that he would not try to spoil
Washington’s plans, the U.S. jumped the gun and began attacking al-Sadr. The
U.S. occupation authorities closed down Sadr's newspaper.... Sadr took his militia to the Najaf and defied
the Americans. Young Shiites rose in revolt in Baghdad’s Sadr City suburb and
the cities of the south, and hundreds died before the U.S. command negotiated a
truce. By the time the truce took effect
al-Sadr was famous across Iraq.... The
Americans even ordered the media out of Najaf so that they will not be witness
to the forthcoming clashes. By resorting
to attacks to eliminate al-Sadr and his militia they are only making him more
popular and more powerful within the Shiite community. By eliminating al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army the
U.S. will lose any hope it has of bringing in the kind of government favourable
to the U.S."
"Sistani's Triumphant Return Must Serve All Iraqis"
An editorial in the moderate English-language Daily
Star contended (8/27): "What a
difference legitimacy makes. Those still harboring any doubts need only view
Thursday's footage of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq. Just weeks after
having been forced to leave Iraq in order to undergo heart treatment in
England, the widely respected spiritual leader's return has inspired a dramatic
outpouring of public support, one literally coursing through the streets.... In
Sistani's absence, Moqtada al-Sadr's loyalists slugged it out with the U.S.-led
coalition at the Imam Ali Mosque, while legitimacy-challenged Prime Minister
Iyad Allawi and newly installed national assembly members groped about in the
dark for a palatable political alternative. The multitudes with Sistani are not
adequately represented by any of these figureheads or power brokers. Rather,
those in the streets are disenchanted, weary and hungry for peaceful national
development. What can Sistani do to help deliver it for them? In the hours and
days ahead, his calming presence may well assist in the peaceful resolution of the
struggle over Najaf. Longer-term successes in conducting elections and
engendering an atmosphere of stability are decidedly less certain. What remains
clear, though, is that Sistani is the best catalyst for the job. Influential
yet without political ambition, religious yet non-sectarian, the very
characteristics of Sistani's person are a perfect fit for a national character
not yet fully democratic, but also aware of the need to coalesce around a new,
inclusive conception of what it means to be Iraqi. So far, all the progress
made toward this end has been achieved erratically, and has been subject to
sudden interruptions at the hands of extremists and reactionaries. Fresh from
the repair of his own heart, Sistani's charge now is to assist in making the procession
of these advancements beat more reliably, and more resoundingly."
"There Is Nothing Radical About Iraq’s Rebel Cleric"
The semi-official English language Gulf Times
ran a piece by Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi which was published in London's center-left
Independent (Internet Version, 8/25):
"The standoff in Najaf has cast the spotlight on the rebel Shia
cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. While the Western media cannot resist calling him
‘radical’, it is in fact very difficult to find any basis for this description.
He has been consistent in his staunch opposition to the occupation of Iraq.
'There can be no politics under occupation, no freedom under occupation, no
democracy under occupation,' he said this month. What is so radical about
that?... While death and insecurity reigned after Baghdad fell, Sadr supporters
took control of many aspects of life in the Shia sectors, appointing clerics to
mosques, guarding hospitals, collecting garbage, operating orphanages, and
supplying food to Iraqis hit by the hardships of war.... Even through armed resistance to occupation,
Sadr has stuck to well-defined limits. He has denied involvement in car
bombings and assassinations; he denounced the attack on the UN headquarters in
Baghdad.... Sadr’s condemnation of the interim
Prime Minster Iyad Allawi and his dismissal of the June ‘handover of power’ as
a farce is justified. Nor has Allawi’s heavy-handed, compliant rule gone down
well with most of the Iraqi population — a recent poll showed his approval
rating at just 2%, tied with Saddam Hussein.... Sadr is also prepared to
disband his army and form a political party to contest next January’s
elections. The fact that some Iraqi leaders are ignoring a decree passed by
Allawi’s government and have invited Sadr into the political process reflects
the recognition that, like him or not, he is too powerful and popular a figure
to marginalise. Calling Sadr ‘radical’ is not only a misrepresentation of his
policies, it is an insult to all those who oppose foreign occupation and domination,
religious in-fighting and regional instability. One does not have to be Shia,
Iraqi, Arab or ‘radical’ to see that."
SYRIA: "Within The Framework Of
Mohamed Khair al-Jamali, an editorialist in
government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote (8/26): "At the time President Bush was talking
about making progress in Iraq, two U.S. military said that the U.S. army need
ten year to conquer Iraqi resistance....
President Bush's statement comes within the framework of exaggeration
which was adopted by the U.S. to justify war on Iraq when Iraqi was accused of
possessing WMD and of having links with al-Qaida and threatening U.S. national
interests.... The progress of U.S.
forces in Najaf was caused by their policy of 'torched land' and using internationally
prohibited weapons. This made the Italian 'Green Party' describe the U.S. army
operation against the Najaf people as mass extermination, which is considered
according to international law a crime against humanity that should be
"Strategy Of Occupation"
Izziddin Darwish, an editorialist in
government-owned Tishreen, commented (8/25): "The U.S. has no interest in seeing
security and stability in Iraq.... In
fact occupation forces are the main cause of all that is taking place in
Iraq.... It is no exaggeration to say that politicians and organizers of the
U.S. presidential campaigns are competing in the Iraqi arena and placing their
wagers on the Iraqi people's blood. Such talk can be proved by facts on the
ground. The U.S. military today is
talking about many security problems and raising the use of military might to
solve these problems, especially in Najaf, without giving a damn about the
spiritual importance of this city for Iraqis and Muslims. They did the same
thing in Fallujah, which they have turned into a city of ghosts.... Americans are deliberately striking the
national unity of the Iraqi people and placing their bet on this... The first
means for occupiers is to create rifts among occupied people in accordance with
the imperial concept: divide and rule."
"Occupation Rejects A Peaceful Solution In
Ahmad Dawwa, an editorialist in government-owned
Al-Thawra, commented (8/20):
"It was not unlikely for the U.S. Administration to reject or cast
doubt on Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr's acceptance of the plan that the Iraqi
National Conference offered to end the serious crisis in Al-Najaf. It
deliberately fabricated the crisis to realize political objectives at home and
abroad, and it does not want Al-Sadr or any other Iraqi, no matter what his
political standing and under any circumstances, to obstruct its plans in this
respect. Given these established facts,
the US National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice's statements, in which she
said she does not trust Muqtada al-Sadr, and expressed interest in seeing the
interim Iraqi government running Iraq's affairs, bring nothing new.... The U.S. Administration is not sincere or
serious in its claim that it is allowing the Iraqi government to run the
affairs of the Iraqi people, as Rice suggested in her remarks. If that were the
case, The U.S. Administration would not have interfered in the initiative that
the Iraqi National Conference offered to resolve the Al-Najaf crisis, an
initiative that was formulated in coordination with the government. This means
that the United States, as an occupying power, has not given up its hegemony
over Iraqi political decisions when it comes to its authority and future plans
for Iraq.... In light of this American
position toward the Iraqi government's willingness to find a peaceful solution
to the situation in Al-Najaf and Al-Sadr's acceptance of a relevant initiative,
the influential Iraqi parties, particularly the Iraqi government, should take
into consideration the motives of the American rejection of a peaceful solution
"The Method Is the Same"
Samir al-Shibani wrote in government-owned Tishreen
(8/21): "Some news media, including
an Israeli newspaper, have recently reported that American forces in Iraq
receive training in guerrilla warfare in an Israeli military base.... Any scrutiny of the American practices
against the Iraqi people would show that they are largely similar to the
Israeli practices against the Palestinian people... What is happening in
Al-Najaf is just an echo of the siege on the Church of the Nativity in
Bethlehem. It reminds us of the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Iraqi
heritage was stolen in much the same way Israel is stealing the Palestinian
heritage.... The torture methods in Abu-Ghraib prison are the same as the
methods used in the prisons of Ashkelon, Shatta, and Jalbu. In brief, many
observers believe that the American-Israeli cooperation will only tarnish the
image of the United States even further."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
"Fighting For The Soul Of Iraq"
An editorial in the national conservative Australian
stated (8/23): “Iraq, yet again, seems to be at a tipping point. For three
weeks the so-called Mehdi Army of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has
refused to relinquish control of the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf, one of the
holiest Shi'ite sites in the world…. If the situation can be resolved without a
full-scale assault on Iraq's holiest place by the US marines, that will not
only prevent a massive loss of life but also a possible sympathetic uprising by
more moderate and secular Shi'ite elements…. Unfortunately Najaf is far from
being the only centre of remaining unrest and violence in Iraq. But it is the
focus, and symbolizes the choice between Islam and Islamism, as well as
highlighting the fact Iraq's interim Government, despite the 120,000 foreign
troops at its disposal, does not have security anywhere near under control. But
the siege of Najaf will end, whether by negotiation or force, and its immediate
aftermath could be decisive for the emerging democratic Iraq.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Settling Iraq...Is
A Path Beset With Difficulties"
Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong
Economic Journal wrote in an editorial (8/21): "Political measures that are being used
to settle the Iraqi issue will need a long time to prove if they will be
successful. The pressing task at the
moment is to resume the basic order in Iraq.
Experts estimate that at least 300,000 peacekeeping troops are needed to
resume the basic order in Iraq. The
U.S.-British coalition forces currently stationed in Iraq do not meet half of
the required number. Bush announced that
he would withdraw military in Europe and Asia and redeploy U.S. global military
strength. However, the whole plan will
take ten years time to finish and will only begin in 2006. A slow remedy cannot meet the urgent
demands. Thus, the plan will not help
settling the Iraqi issue. Overthrowing
the Saddam regime in a month time, the U.S. encountered no difficulty
militarily. However, when Saddam was gone,
the national and religious clashes, which have been hidden for over 20 years,
suddenly erupted. The U.S. could not
find any way out. Relying simply on its
powerful military strength to suppress riots will, of course, be invincible. However, this can only stop riots temporarily
and will not get at the root of the problem.
Oil prices may drop and the stock market may rise after the fighting in
Najaf stops. However, it won't last
JAPAN: "Use The National Conference As
Momentum For Democratization"
Top-circulation moderate-conservative Yomiuri
editorialized (8/21): "The democratization process in Iraq has moved
forward following the recent National Conference and the creation of an interim
national council. However, the situation
in Iraq is far from optimistic. Iraqi
government leaders need to be patient in their rebuilding efforts because hasty
endeavors could worsen the fluid domestic political situation. The security situation in the war-torn nation
must improve in order to encourage further commitment from the U.N. The international body's support for the
upcoming elections in Iraq is indispensable for the local democratization
process. The global community must also
extend necessary assistance to Iraq's vulnerable political process."
"Can Iraq Prepare For Elections?"
A liberal Asahi editorialized (8/20): "Holding elections is a critical step
toward stability and democracy in Iraq.
The poll must be fair and legitimate with the right to vote ensured by
maintaining safety at voting booths.
Improving domestic safety is indispensable for a national referendum.... Hard-liners opposed to the U.S. occupation
and the transitional government also need to be included in the political
process. The government's acceptance of
U.S. military operations against anti-American rebels has resulted in
unleashing further violence. The
government must engage in dialogue with dissenting parties and urge the U.S.
military to exercise restraint."
"Tough Road Ahead For Stability"
Business-oriented Nikkei argued (8/20): "We cannot claim that the conclusion of
the National Conference in Iraq signals a giant leap toward stability for the
nation. Militia supporters of radical
Shiite cleric al-Sadr are still fighting as other armed Sunni and foreign
guerrillas continue their activities.
Restoring security will be a long-term task for Iraq.... We hope that the national conference gave
locals an opportunity to share a sense of responsibility for the rebuilding of
their damaged homeland."
"All-Out War In Iraq"
Independent afternoon daily Suara Pembaruan
noted (8/26): “It was predicted earlier that the guerilla war and open
opposition in Iraq would only be launched by the Sunnis, the Baath militia and
remnants of the pro-Saddam forces.… In
fact, the chaos in the Sunni triangle (Baghdad, Fallujah and Ramadi) has spread
to Najaf, Basra and the Shiite dominated area in southern Iraq.… We view that Muqtada is seeking to provoke
U.S. forces into an all out war, and he is aware that the U.S. will find it
difficult to win a guerilla war. Victims
would fall from the two sides, which in turn would draw world sympathy,
especially condemnation from the international community. Indeed, there have been protests over the
siege of the Imam Ali Mosque by 93 leaders from 30 Muslim countries including
"Crisis In U.S. Public Diplomacy"
Leading independent Kompas in an op-ed
piece by Muhamad Ali of Jakarta’s Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University
commented (8/26): “The attacks by U.S.
forces in Najaf for the past weeks demonstrated that George Bush’s policy of
fighting global terrorism has failed to gain support from the Muslim
World. The ‘freedom and democracy’ motto
in Iraq has been seen as mere lip service.… In order to regain the lost trust
in U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. must first involve wise U.S. religious leaders
in looking into problems in inter-faith relations. There are quite a lot of
inclusive leaders among Catholics, Protestants and Jews who should be invited
to take a role in U.S. public diplomacy.
If not, the U.S. would go alone and fail to use its own intellectual
assets.... Cultural and educational
exchange programs must be massively conducted, not merely as a complement to
the military programs. It is a pity that militarism prevails over
intellectualism in U.S. foreign policy.”
"Struggle Of Al-Sadr 'Dynasty'"
Independent Indo Pos of Surabaya, in an
op-ed piece by a researcher with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI)
Riza Sihbudi, commented (8/23): “In one of his Friday sermons in Najaf in 1999,
Ayatollah Al-Sadr stated loudly: ‘Say no. Say no to America. Say no to Israel.
No and no to imperialism!’ Make no
mistake. He was not Ayatollah Muqtada
Al-Sadr but Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, Muqtada’s father. He was killed by the Republican Guards, who
were loyal to Saddam Hussein in 1999.
Some 20 years earlier, in 1980, prominent Shiite leader and philosopher
Ayatollah Muhammed Baqir Al-Sadr had been killed by Saddam regime. He was Muqtada’s uncle.… Muqtada and his Al
Mahdi warriors are now fighting between life and death against the U.S.
occupational forces in Iraq, Najaf in particular. In military terms, they are not comparable
with the U.S. and allied forces. But
with a strong martyrdom doctrine among the Shiites and the jihad spirit of
Muqtada and his warriors make the U.S. military and its lackeys scared. To them, the U.S. is no different from the
Saddam regime. Even in Muqtada’s eye, the U.S. is more uncivilized than
Saddam. Saddam respected sacred places,
but the U.S. does not.”
"Fixing Iraq And The Oil Price"
The pro-government Business Times opined
(8/26): "It was inevitable that the
battle for Najaf...and the various bombings and assassinations that wrack daily
life in Iraq would eclipse any development on Iraq's political front. But it would equally be true to say that the
formation of the 100-person interim assembly that would putatively oversee the
affairs of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's government was not of any great moment
either.... Truth be told, it looks like a re-run of the way Mr. Allawi's
interim government was itself formed.... If it were only a matter of forming a
future Iraqi government with a semblance of legitimacy, the world might be
tempted to look on in wry amusement at these antics. But the economies of many
nations hang in the balance because of events in Iraq. Although crude oil
prices have retreated from the record highs of nearly US$50 a barrel, they are
still painfully high. Everyone has a stake in Iraq. Most of the world's big
oil-producing countries are working their pumps to the hilt and there is little
capacity to adjust if any o ne of the big producers stops its exports for any
reason at all.... But the major factor in today's high oil price remains Iraq.
Ever since American troops captured Baghdad in April 2003, insurgents have
targeted Iraq's oil industry.... The responsibility for public order in Iraq
rests with the U.S. and the rest of the occupying coalition. They must nudge
the political process in a manner that psychologically outflanks the insurgency
and starts the build-up of institutions for good governance. Last week's show
contributes very little towards this end."
INDIA: "Outlook In Iraq"
An editorial in the August 25 pro-BJP
right-of-center Pioneer put forth (8/25): "The fierceness with which fighting has
resumed at Najaf, provides continuous reminder that Iraq's new interim
assembly, National Council, elected by a National Conference that met in
Baghdad from August 16 to 18, to supervise the Government of Prime Minister
Ayad Allawi, has a rough road ahead. One needs to be very optimistic indeed to
hope that the promise of accountability in governance the development holds
out, as well as the prospect of elections in January, will lead to a tapering
of violence.... Things will become even
more difficult for the U.S. and the Allawi Government if the fighting at Najaf
does significant damage to the Imam Ali mosque, the holiest of holy shrine for
Shias. On the other hand, success in evicting the Shia cleric Moktada al-Sadr's
Mehdi Army from there without such a disaster will not by itself, make a
decisive change in the overall picture.
The U.S. must prepare for a long haul. Hasty retreat from Iraq will only
boost the morale of fundamentalist Islamist terrorists who will feel encouraged
to launch further strikes against fortress America itself."
"Crisis In Najaf"
An editorial in Mumbai-based Marathi-language
right-of-center Marathi Turan Bharat noted (8/24): "The ongoing confrontation between rebel
Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's militia and the
U.S. army has assumed alarming proportions. The situation there has gone out of hand
mainly because the U.S.armed forces, stationed near Najaf's golden-domed
shrine, have yielded their control to the U.S. marines. The marines have
resorted to indiscriminate firing without taking the US army top brass into
confidence. The standoff in Najaf is
essentially a clash between al-Sadr and Iraq's Prime Minister Iyad Alawi. Instead of negotiating peace between these
warring groups in Iraq, the U.S. has used its marines to silence al-Sadr's
Mahdi army. Al-Sadr has skillfully
'used' this U. S. marine action to sway the local sentiments against the U.S.
forces.... America needs to change its policy in Najaf as it cannot afford
bloodshed in the Imam Ali shrine. It also needs to grant some representation to
al-Sadr's rebel group in the transitional government currently ruling
"Iraq: Where Death Is Cheaper Than Life"
Khalid Sheikh penned the following in independent Urdu-language Inquilab
(8/19): "Iraq is not only facing
the slaughtering of its people by the American occupation forces even for the
most insignificant reasons together with fierce struggle for freedom by the
patriots and the total anarchy prevailing all around, the country is also the target
of organized efforts to promote Christianity and American culture of nudity and
vulgarity. Christian missionaries are working in the guise of aid workers and
distributing evangelical literature along with food and medical aid. On the
other hand, the educational curriculum is being systematically being doctored
in order to alienate people from religion....
What Iraq is now going through is only a replay of what Britain had done
in the past speaking the same lies of liberating the people of the country. The only difference this time is that it is a
joint invasion by the US-UK combine. The interim government led by the agents
of the invaders has neither the credibility nor the capacity whatsoever to make
thins better in the country. The people of Iraq are bravely fighting the
invaders as they did in the past to get rid of the foreign occupation. Iraq
will not calm down unless and until the occupation forces leave."
PAKISTAN: "Situation In Najaf And Our
An editorial in the Karachi-based, right-wing,
pro-Islamic unity Urdu-language Jasarat railed (8/24): "The shrine of Hazrat Ali is reverent
for all the Muslims but the Catholic forces are bent upon causing harm to
it. It is being alleged that miscreants
are taking shelter in the shrine.
Ironically the definition of miscreants has changed. It is just to occupy any independent country;
it is democratic to kill women, children and old; it is legitimate to throw
humans before dogs but it is terrorism, aggression and violence to fight for
the independence and sovereignty of one's country."
CANADA: "America Winning Battle, Losing The
Editorial page editor emeritus Haroon Siddiqui
maintained in the liberal Toronto Star (8/26): "Al-Sadr may yet be
saved by, of all people, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the senior-most cleric, who has
been unhappy with his tactics. Sistani is a 'quietist' who shuns politics and
speaks elliptically. He has been criticized for failing to condemn the U.S.
military attack.Returning yesterday from London after heart surgery, he is to
lead a peace march in Najaf today to help find a face-saving exit for both
sides. If he fails, al-Sadr may yet be killed. Should that happen, he will live
on to inspire others. If he isn't, he will not disband his militia, regardless
of what he promises. It will just melt back into whence it came - the poor,
angry and unemployed population - and re-emerge whenever the next call comes.
Regardless of how this battle ends, America has already lost the war."
ARGENTINA: "Iraq: Confusing Withdrawal From
Leading Clarin stated (8/21)
"Religious man Muqtada al-Sadr, the most relevant figure of Iraq's
resistance against allied occupation, abandoned yesterday - without firing a
single bullet, though amid an extremely confusing situation - the mosque of
Imam Ali, in Najaf, which had been occupied for weeks. According to
announcements by the rebels, the place would be turned over to a representative
of ayatollah Sistani, the maximum Shiite leader, an old man of moderate views
who doesn't approve of the fight led by Sadr. But last night, it wasn't at all
clear what was happening in that place. There seemed to be less battles, but
the militia remained in place. There were no arrests, as reported by the
interim local government. The truth is that these clashes, which included the
bombing of an oil pipe to the north and the burning of the offices of an oil
company, led to the sharp rise in the price of crude oil, which hit 50 dollars,
and then fell to 47.60.... A spokesperson of al-Sadr declared that ayatollah
Sistani had 'agreed over the phone' to take over control of the shrine, where
the militia were hiding. But after a few hours, it wasn't clear who was in
control of the situation."
MEXICO: "The Najaf Enigma"
Pedro Miguel speculated in left-of-center La
Jornada (8/24): "Another possible explanation for the disappointing
results of the warlike U.S. forces in Najaf is that these forces are not
directed toward taking the holy city, the liquidation of the government of
Mehdi or the general stabilization of Iraq, but rather to push up the price of
oil in the international markets. The impact of the conflict in southern Iraq
represents a severe blow to the European and Asian economies, and also harms
the U.S., but it favors the Texas oil companies, those both Bushes are a part
of. Perhaps the destruction and the deaths - of civilians and military, Iraqis
and Americans- in Najaf might be the means at this time to optimize the profits
for their shareholder friends, and the famous entrenched cleric may be an
involuntary instrument in the hands of those in charge of controlling the
"U.S.: Two Hurricanes"
Rogelio Rios noted in independent El Norte
(8/19): "Two hurricanes recently
beat upon the U.S.: one, ‘Charley’,
which devastated the coasts of southern Florida; the other one, ‘Sadr’,
threatens Iraq's democratic possibilities in the modern world. Both phenomena, the meteorological and
political, have broad repercussions for stability in Latin American countries
and none of these, in particular Mexico, should consider them strangers to
[their] national interests.... The other
hurricane, ‘Sadr’, navigating under the flag of the resistance toward the U.S.
occupation, encourages a fratricidal battle among Iraqis that seems the most
serious threat for Iraq’s future and threatens the possibility of political
change in the Islamic world.... The
least we can do is become conscious of the situation, be prepared, open to
global sensitivity that the globalized world demands."