November 30, 2004
IRAQ: BAGHDAD'S NEIGHBORS SEEK CONSENSUS ON VOTE, SECURITY
** Optimists note dialogue in Egypt was "worth a great deal" for stability.
** Critics view Sharm el-Sheikh as "an attempt to justify American intervention."
** Commentators wrangle over appropriate timing of Iraqi elections.
Positive 'spirit of Sharm el-Sheikh'-- Most Euro papers agreed that participants of the Sharm el-Sheikh conference on Iraq had seized an "opportunity to stabilize the war-ravaged and insurgency-riddled country ahead of the national elections." Germany's centrist Der Tagesspiegel hailed the participants' "remarkable" unanimous support for the stabilization process in Iraq. Italy's centrist Corriere della Sera warned of obstacles ahead but praised the conference for creating "a minimum common denominator." Observers declared the value of the conference was evident during a "time of clear cultural discord and misunderstanding."
'Treacherous U.S. plot'-- To critics, the Sharm el-Sheikh conference acted as a "smokescreen" for U.S. policy that yielded only "wishes by the international community to establish democracy in Iraq." According to Arab's nationalist Al-Safir, the conference gave "the impression that there is an attempt to internationalize the Iraqi issue," though in reality it sought the ratification of "the U.S. agenda for Iraq," while providing "a broader cover for the American military campaign." Iran's conservative Tehran Times complained that "U.S. officials will spare no effort...in order to realize their goals." Noting the "exchange of animosities between Americans and Frenchmen" and the "many ifs and buts" expressed during the conference, Germany's business-oriented Handelsblatt contended that any agreements made at the conference risk being "reduced to lip service."
'Possibility of postponing elections'?-- "Everybody is for elections" in Iraq, but there were mixed viewpoints on the timing. Thailand's moderately conservative Bangkok Post lamented that prerequisites for election are "far from being satisfied, and two months is not a very long time." Pointing to an end to violence as a more important goal, Saudi Arabia's moderate Okaz further argued that "it is not important if the election in Iraq is not carried out on its scheduled date." UAE's expatriate-oriented Gulf News, in contrast, supported the January date in order to defeat those "who do not wish Iraq to become a democracy," while at the same time admonishing that the elections need to be "free and fair." Germany's Financial Times Deutschland similarly noted that the "situation would not improve if elections were postponed for half a year," stating that "without the prospect of elections, more Shiites would take up their weapons again." Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post concurred that "the ambitious January 30 date for parliamentary elections...is positive" for "continued progress towards fully fledged Iraqi democracy." On an optimistic note, the paper also speculated that the "laudable" debt relief recently accorded Iraq may provide "momentum" for dealing with the challenge of providing "safe and representative" elections in January.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Gloria Kim
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 33 reports from 21 countries over 18 - 29 November 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Arab And Muslim Forces Are Needed For Iraq"
Oliver Miles, former UK ambassador to Libya, argued in the center-left Independent (11/26): "Colin Powell initially welcomed the proposal for an all-Muslim security force, but the eventual American response was a fudge, with several reasons, or rather pretexts given.... No doubt the U.S. election was the real reason for inaction. While no proposal guarantees success, this offers something to everyone: an honorable exit strategy for the allied powers, and an opportunity for the Iraq government to free itself from the stigma of association with the invaders."
GERMANY: "Better Soon Than Never"
Clemens Wergin observed in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (11/28): "Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi must chose between two evils: either he insists on holding parliamentary elections in Iraq as planned on January 30 and, thus, risks that many Sunnis do not cast their vote, because their areas are not safe enough, or he postpones the elections and annoys Shiites and their religious leader Sistani, who wants to see a Shiite dominated government legitimized by elections as soon as possible. There is no way out of this dilemma for Allawi. He should stick to the timetable, because nobody knows whether the security situation will improve in the next six months. It is important that Iraqis visibly take their fate into their own hands and that the government can no longer be suspected of being an American puppet. Beyond that, Allawi's message will be that the Sunni destruction rage will only result in less power for them."
"Election Out Of Desperation"
Peter Muench noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/24): "There will be democracy in Iraq after the elections on January 30. But the good news of unity is actually a bad sign, because the participants at the conference ignored the reality of war for the sake of peace. Of course, elections in Iraq are a noble goal and a nice symbol, but does it really solve any problems? Elections do not create security. Neither do they put a stop to terror nor will they end the presence of foreign troops. And elections will not at all establish a fair balance between the different ethnic groups. The result could be a Shiite dominance and an escalation of the Sunni insurgency in Baghdad, Fallujah and Ramadi. Iraq certainly does not just need military but also political pacification, but this process needs more time than 68 days, given the difficult situation. Focusing stubbornly on a specific day in January is nothing else but desperation. War is no breeding ground for democracy.... Well-prepared elections at a later date would serve the country better."
Dietrich Alexander commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/24): "They are talking to each other again. That is the good news from Sharm el-Sheikh. The problems were put on the table: Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran. Despite the softened communiqué, which is far from any substantial statement, a dialogue has begun at the Red Sea--that is worth a great deal at a time of clear cultural discord and misunderstanding."
"From Baghdad To Jerusalem"
Malte Lehming wrote in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (11/24): "Terrorists and insurgents will not be successful militarily. Their only goal is to elevate themselves as martyrs in an anti-colonial fight. By their cruel action they want to force their opponents--U.S. soldiers--to react excessively. The pictures of these deeds are supposed to run on Arab TV programs in order to cause commotion in the Arab world. Sometimes their strategy works, like in the case of the Fallujah mosque. That was perfect for their propaganda. The more remarkable it is that the participants of the Iraq conference in Sharm el-Sheikh unanimously supported the stabilization process in the country. Terrorism was clearly condemned and Iraq's neighbors were called upon to put a stop to the intrusion, financing and arming of terrorists. The elections were welcomed and terrorists waited in vain for any sort of outrage. Terrorists were rejected solidarity, not their opponents--Americans and Allawi's interim government. That raises hopes. The usual criticism of some Arab leaders that the Middle East conflict has not yet been solved does not limit the success. Everybody in the region knows that the foundation of a Palestinian state can hardly solve the problem of radical Islamism. Fanatics are united in their hatred of America, emancipation, democracy, and secular liberty. The Middle East conflict often only serves as their excuse."
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg editorialized (11/24): "The security situation would not improve if elections were postponed for half a year. On the contrary! Without the prospect of elections, more radical Shiites would take up their weapons again. And the longer U.S. troops stay in Iraq the more people will resist the new developments. A successive withdrawal of American troops is only conceivable under a government with a democratic mandate. That is the only way to pacify the country permanently and to rebuild Iraq. Thus, participants at the Iraq conference in Egypt supported the timetable, despite the high costs of terror attacks. The violence is coming from the Sunni triangle in particular. It might be very difficult to hold elections in places like Fallujah, Ramadi and Tikrit, but the minority of Sunnis has no right to take all Iraqis hostage.... The textbook of democracy does not say that elections can be postponed in strongholds of insurgency, but parliamentary seats can remain empty to enable a later political participation of Sunnis. However, only a small number of towns should be excluded. It is important to include the losers of regime change in Iraq, but elections are not illegal simply because a small part of the people reject it."
Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf opined (11/24): "Representatives of the Iraq opposition had to stay outside. That is one reason why the conference could not increase the perspective of the Iraqi elections at the end of January. The opposite was the result, as Sunni groups called loudly for boycotting the elections. Beyond that, not only Sunnis doubt whether the hated occupying forces will withdraw at the end of 2005. Hopes were further dashed by the exchange of animosities between Americans and Frenchmen. They should rather search for constructive ideas to stabilize Iraq. The same skepticism can be expressed about the Iraqi debt relief. There are so many ifs and buts endangering the agreement to be reduced to lip service."
ITALY: "A Day of Fear And Hope -- Baghdad’s Final Bet"
Bernardo Valli commented in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (11/28): “The latest chapter of the drama is dominated by the elections, scheduled for January 30. The date evokes terror and kindles hope.... There is fear that [this date] will lead to an escalation in violence: and after all, it is difficult to imagine how the electoral campaign will fare, in the next two months, particularly in the Sunni triangle...where the opposition has made its way and continues to cause numerous difficulties for U.S. forces and for the new Iraqi armed forces. There are daily threats: voters will be risking their lives.... Even leaders of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s party have asked to postpone elections. Did they have their leader’s okay? Maybe. But if there was an agreement, it quickly vanished. Following Bush and Ambassador Negroponte, Allawi reiterated that the established January 30 date couldn’t be changed. Did he have any other choice? Postponing elections would mean a defeat. It would be a victory for the armed insurrection. And that’s not all. The Shiites, meaning 60 percent of the population, want to vote. Elections would legitimize their majority. On Friday, in the holy city of Najaf, imams reiterated that the scheduled January 30 date must be respected. This is the wish, the demand, of Ayatollah Sistani, the highest-ranking Shiite religious authority, who is also Allawi’s principal ally, and therefore indirectly of the Americans as well. He can’t be disappointed.”
"Appeal To Allawi: 'Let's Postpone Elections'"
Gian Micalessin noted in pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (11/27): “[There is] the great fear of the Shiite tide. [There is] the long hand of an old politician who was cast aside during last June’s transition. And lastly, [there is] the concern of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi who is unsure about putting himself to the electoral test only two months after the grueling battle in Fallujah. These are the three ‘good’ reasons that yesterday pushed 17 Kurdish and Sunni groups and political parties to take the position of seeming divergence with a U.S. administration that until now has moved towards elections. But according to many observers, the White House could backtrack and accept a request for postponement. The clamorous and unexpected Sunni turnaround followed a meeting in the home of Adnan Pachachi, the 80-year-old minister from the pre-Saddam era who was denied the presidency and premiership last June.... The return of Pachachi is seen as the necessary key to legitimize the decision to postpone elections without harming Prime Minister Allawi. According to credible sources, even Condoleezza Rice wouldn’t mind this option; she is increasingly uncertain about the possibility of achieving the peace in the Sunni triangle in the short term. Better to present the old minister as the man capable of introducing the postponement option on behalf of the Kurds and Sunnis. From an American point of view, this option has three positive aspects. First of all, it...saves the ally Allawi from a crushing defeat. Secondly, it gives Washington more time to ‘clean up’ the pockets of terrorism. And finally, it keeps away the biggest nightmare created by the January 30 deadline: to deliver the electoral victory to groups and leaders who are overly influenced and controlled by their Iranian ‘protectors.’”
"If The Circle In Iraq Becomes Virtuous"
Guido Rampoldi commented in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (11/24): “A consensus was officially reached on the decision to hold elections in Iraq on January 30 and some of its neighboring countries promised, once again, to prevent the coming and going of rebel fighters along their borders. But the substance is more opaque than the official positions. The form is more reassuring. An unusual cordiality, or formal politeness, reigned. Colin Powell talked with Europeans and Arabs about issues that in the past the Americans would have resolved on their own.... And this apparent reciprocal receptivity suggests a theoretical possibility to appease the Iraqi crisis through political means. But it could be too little, too late to stop the military dynamics that are by now possibly autonomous and irreversible.... Despite official declarations, we cannot exclude the possibility of postponing elections. Without Sunni participation, the entire constituent process would derail. Iraq would slip toward ethnic conflict. And neighboring countries would be drawn in. All this means that Iraq’s problems are rooted in the region and should be addressed with a regional policy. But the Americans don’t have one; the Europeans certainly don’t have one; the Arabs are even less likely to have one. And the conference didn’t indicate a way to draw one up.”
"The Great Exchange Between The Two Sides In Search Of An Exit Strategy"
Franco Venturini remarked in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (11/24): “The multilateral shift in Sharm el-Sheikh has taken its first steps and at least on paper it promises a different political handling of the Iraqi conflict.... The ‘spirit of Sharm el-Sheikh’ seems to have for the first time created a minimum common denominator that has been extended to the Arab and Islamic world. But it would be ingenuous not to see, alongside this important novelty, the obstacles that make this a very difficult path to travel.”
NORWAY: "Keep Norway Out Of Iraq"
The social democratic newspaper Dagsavisen remarked (11/25): “Norway should voice a clear no to sending more Norwegian forces into Iraq, even if we for now are just talking of ‘a small number of instructors.’ All soldiers in foreign uniforms in Iraq are seen as part of the occupying forces. In reality, he or she who is seen as an occupier by the population of a country is an occupier. More soldiers from more countries will only cause more harm to the relationship between the west and the Muslim world, including Iraq.... Let's still hope for a reasonably fair and widely accepted election in the end of January. But if the Shia Muslim majority is planning to use its power of the majority to the fullest, it is not a given that the election will solve anything at all. It is also not clear if the U.S. occupiers will accept a Shia Muslim, strongly religious and Iran-friendly regime in Baghdad. Norway follows the UN and NATO track, according to the government. There are no such unambiguous tracks. Norway should therefore follow the six NATO countries, Germany and France included, which have given a flat no to contributing with soldiers in Iraq.”
ROMANIA: "Sharm El-Sheikh Summit"
Foreign policy analyst Razvan Voncu commented in conservative Cronica Romana (11/24): "U.S. foreign policy is so primitive that it must worry us, as long as America remains the only pole of power of the world. The situation in Iraq and the ways to resolve it, as intended by the White House, fully prove it, as the joke ‘the surgery was a success, the patient died’ well says. Representatives of several states and international organizations have gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh to find together a solution to the serious crisis in the Gulf area. Unfortunately, instead of starting from a realistic evaluation of the situation in order to also suggest some more adequate methods than those previously used, this conference is an attempt to justify the American intervention, U.S. policies, and to ‘prepare the ground’ to bring to power, through elections that will be anything but free, the Allawi pro-American regime."
SPAIN: "Support The Elections"
Left-of-center El País observed (11/24): "A concrete commitment of retreat would contribute to channel the conflict.... Colin Powell has managed to avoid the disapproval of the violence against the civilians and has obtained an agreement of collaboration of the neighboring countries, especially Syria and Iran, to close the entry of terrorists to Iraq through their borders. The intentions are good. But nobody has undertaken to send troops to guarantee the elections.... Everybody is for elections. But if these are not celebrated, there isn't an alternative plan."
TURKEY: "America Should Look In The Mirror"
Hasan Unal argued in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (11/29): “The U.S. administration is reacting harshly against the criticism in Turkey of its war crimes. Apparently the U.S. embassy in Ankara voiced its disappointment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This reminds of past instances in which the U.S. expressed uneasiness about the reaction in Turkey against the war crimes committed in Tal Afar. Interestingly enough, the U.S. feels disturbed when an official statement is added to the reactions in public opinion. The warnings issued by Washington to Ankara in this regard raise the following question: what type of democracy does the U.S. intend to promote? Is the U.S. really expecting to see no reaction from the Turkish public or from the government or parliament while committing war crimes and presenting such horrifying images?”
"Fallujah And The Resistance Groups"
Zafer Atay commented in the economic-politic Dunya (11/24): “The U.S. is aiming to use Fallujah as a model for dealing with resistance groups in Iraq. The U.S. hopes that by using severe action in Fallujah and by ignoring Geneva Convention and moral values, it might create a deterrent for future actions by the Iraqi resistance. Yet this argument has already proven false, as the violence in Fallujah has now spread to Mosul and Ramadi. Instead of thinking about a 'deterrent,' the U.S. should go back to the history books and take lessons from the past, especially from Vietnam.... On the other hand, the resistance in Iraq against the occupation force is rather complex. There is no unity among the resistance groups, since some of them are acting with religious motivation while others are genuine patriots. However, there is one more group to add to this list: terrorists. Terrorists linked to al-Qaida and al-Zarqawi continue to kidnap and murder innocent people.... The real Iraqi heroes who fight against the invaders deserve respect. Yet it is out of the question to put terrorists and patriots in the same category. They are terrorists, and they should be treated accordingly.”
"The U.S. Contradiction"
Fikret Bila observed in mass-appeal Milliyet (11/24): “It is not expected that the Iraqi people will elect a pro-American administration in the upcoming elections. This is where the U.S. contradiction lies. Surely it is not very realistic to expect the Iraqi people to support the occupiers at the ballot box. Only the Kurdish groups in northern Iraq would support the U.S. in the elections, since they are the only ones who have benefited from the U.S. occupation. Support from the Shiites and the Sunnis should not be expected. Since the Shiites form the majority in Iraq, it would be natural for them to win the elections. As a matter of fact, the Shiites are avoiding a direct role in the resistance with this expectation in mind. They expect to come out of the elections with a mandate to form the new government. For this reason, they are not joining forces with the resistance until elections can be held.”
EGYPT: "Falluja To Sharm"
Salamah A. Salamah commented in the pro-government English-language Al-Ahram Weekly (Internet Version, 11/18): "The discussions preceding the Sharm El-Sheikh conference and the draft statement of the summit throw some light on US intentions. The Americans have rejected the French proposal, refusing to declare a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. Washington even objected to a sentence denouncing 'violence' against civilians. Not surprising, considering that US troops are firing randomly at the Falluja populace. It is hard to see how the Sharm El-Sheikh conference--to be hosted by Egypt and attended by the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and other Arab parties--can come up with anything useful. The conference is unlikely to persuade the Americans to end military operations, or make them pledge to withdraw by a given date. This being the case, the gathering is unlikely to achieve much beyond providing a smokescreen for US policy."
IRAQ: "Sharm El-Sheikh Conference And Iraqis"
Semi-weekly Al-Adalah, published by the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), commented (11/22): "The Sharm el-Sheikh conference is an historic opportunity for all participants to prove their good will and true intentions to help the Iraqi people and government pass the current stage. The success of the conference will make Iraqis view all those taking part in the event with much respect and appreciation. It will not only mean the success of the Iraqi project, rather, it will be a gain for states that have yet failed to prove their sincere willingness to come to Iraq's aid." (UNAMI translation)
"Sharm El-Sheikh Conference Held In Climate Of Rapid Changes"
Jabir Habib Jabir commented in the Baghdad edition of London-based, pan-Arab Al-Sharq al-Awsat (11/22): "The Sharm el-Sheikh conference is being held in such a climate of rapid changes, with Iraq's neighbors, Egypt, the eight major industrialized nations, China and representatives of the international organizations concerned. As for the Iraqi government's representative, he will attend...relying on a U.S. administration enjoying broad powers from its people and having enough time to implement the neo-conservatives' agenda. Attending the conference can be interpreted as acceptance on the part of the participants of the political option in Iraq. Therefore, they will be asked to back this option seriously, support the forthcoming elections and not intervene to block them or influence their results. The major industrialized nations, for their part, will be requested to activate the international campaign against terrorism and assist with Iraqi reconstruction. However, there should be some real assurances in the light of earlier concerns, while everyone should be made aware of the gravity of the situation in Iraq and their responsibilities. An uncontrollable situation and undermined institutions threaten to make Iraq a breeding ground for violence, not a recipient of it." (UNAMI translation)
JORDAN: "Opportunities For The Region"
Independent English-language Jordan Times editorialized (Internet Version, 11/23): "Two windows of opportunity are being opened in the Middle East almost simultaneously to jump-start the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as to prepare the groundwork for the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.... On the Iraqi front, the Sharm El Sheikh conference on this Arab country could offer another window of opportunity to stabilise the war-ravaged and insurgency-riddled country ahead of the national elections.... There is already more than enough acrimony that was triggered on the eve of the conference to cast doubt about its usefulness and probability of success. Yet, an effort must be made by the attending countries to do their best to restore stability to Iraq. The problem that faces the Sharm El Sheikh meeting is the divergent agendas of the participating capitals. The best that the meeting can emerge with is to arrive at a consensus that would bring about a peace conference between the Iraqi interim government and main opposition groups. Sooner or later, all the principal Iraqi factions have to be on talking terms, before stability can be restored to their country. Paris is proposing such an idea, but Washington and London are paying little heed to the suggestions coming from several European capitals. On the other hand, all Iraq's neighbouring countries should double their efforts to control their borders with Iraq so that the fate of Iraq is left to the Iraqis only. One consideration would be the deployment of a regional force to stem infiltration and interference in Iraq's internal affairs. When elections are held in Iraq, the US occupation will have to end exactly as the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. As long as US occupation hangs over the Iraqis, the January elections will remain suspect."
LEBANON: "The Last Stop"
Sateh Noureddine wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir (11/24): “The Sharm el-Sheikh summit has only one meaning: the coalition which was led by the U.S. when it invaded Iraq during the spring of 2003, and which included 33 states...has increased to 50 states.... The Sharm el-Sheikh summit gives the impression that there is an attempt to internationalize the Iraqi issue. The summit adopted UNSCR 1546 as its lead and hinted that the states that were hesitant about the war on Iraq or used to oppose it have...succeeded in getting the international community to sponsor the situation in Iraq.... However, the impression is wrong...because in reality, the Sharm el-Sheikh summit succeeded in getting those states to acknowledge and approve the U.S. agenda for Iraq.... In reality, the conference was an additional political success for the U.S. and provided a broader cover for the American military campaign against the revolutionary Iraqi cities.”
"The Sharm El-Sheikh Summit: Blessing The American Policy"
Joseph Samaha held in Arab nationalist As-Safir (11/24): “The U.S. administration and the interim Iraqi government got what they wanted: approval for efforts to broaden participation in the political process in Iraq; approval for steps taken to bring democracy to Iraq; approval for Iraq’s transformation into a united federal democratic country; in addition to denouncement of all types of terrorism.... Washington can say that it forced those who opposed its war on Iraq to start a new chapter and participate in ‘maintenance work in Iraq.’... George Bush will make sure that he takes advantage of these results.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "What Power Does Not Achieve"
Jeddah’s moderate Okaz editorialized (11/29): "It is not important if the election in Iraq is not carried out in its scheduled date. The important thing is rebuilding Iraq and restoring its sovereignty. Elections are just the means by which citizens of a country cast their votes and exercise their right to decide who will run their country.... Iraq needs a super power that will restore peace, and drive away fear. Only when people live in peace, will they drop their guns and look for ways to rebuild their country. Is the upcoming election going to achieve this goal? We hope so!"
"Plymouth Rock And Roving Terrorism"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (11/28): "The Administration in the United States is unaware of what is happening on the ground in Iraq, and of the consequences of continuing their daily oppression against the Iraqi people. In reality the military and political policies of the U.S. have similar objectives in Iraq. Especially now that the stage has become clear from any opposition, and Colin Powell left (sic) the State Department...the occupation and its practices in Fallujah yesterday, and today in south Baghdad is not offering any solution. Violence offers no help to the upcoming election. Instead it fuels the anger of terrorists and encourages them to resort to more violence. One wonders if that is what the occupation is looking for!"
BAHRAIN: "Iraq Faces Multiple Occupations"
Mirza Aman wrote in the English-language Bahrain Tribune (11/29): "Not all occupiers have the skills and the experience required for achieving quick and less expensive occupation. As there are professional and experienced occupiers, there are also reckless, ruthless and amateur occupiers. Those amateur occupiers...because they are inexperienced and reckless, commit huge and fatal mistakes, which in most cases lead to the emergence of fierce, bloody and costly resistance.... The American army, in contrast to the European armies and the British army in particular, was established as a military force responsible for defending the U.S. and its interests both at home and abroad. It was not established, neither meant to be, an occupation force...to colonize countries and create an expanded American empire.... That is why we hear American soldiers and officers call their opponents, all their opponents including American opponents, their 'enemies.'... Because the American soldiers were recruited, trained, taught and paid to fight enemies, it was natural to keep in their minds that they are in Iraq to fight enemies of the U.S. and its people. All they know and were told, trained and asked to do is how to use their weapons to kill and 'wipe out'.... The American soldiers were told not to show mercy towards enemies because 'a good enemy is the dead enemy.' They were told that the people they were going to invade include terrorists and because it will be difficult for the soldiers to single out those terrorists it is better to wipe them out, to be certain that no terrorist is left alive. The American soldiers were neither trained nor allowed to use their brains or sense. They were not trained, lectured or briefed on the ethics of wars and international laws and conventions or how to treat people under occupation. They were trained to act as robots operated from distance by a group of liars and deceptive officials, as Alan Gilbert, professor of international studies at the University of Denver, said. Prof. Gilbert, who taught Bush national security adviser Condoleezza Rice during her graduation and doctoral studies at the University of Denver in the 70’s, debunked Bush administration’s claims and said that Bush’s war against Iraq was unjustified. In his report, Prof. Gilbert said that Bush claims were a 'a deliberate pattern of deception.'"
UAE: "Free And Fair Elections Can Defeat Saddam Nostalgists"
Amir Taheri wrote in the English-language, expatriate-oriented Gulf News (Internet version, 11/24): "Iraq's first ever free election is going ahead in the teeth of formidable internal and external opposition from all those who, for many different reasons, do not wish Iraq to become a democracy. The coalition of Saddam nostalgists will not admit defeat easily. It will do all it can to bring liberated Iraq to grief. The only way to defeat that coalition is to make sure that next January's elections are free and fair, and seen as such by the people of Iraq."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "Iraqis Not Interested In Sharm El-Sheikh Conference"
Muhsen Hussein and Laith Salman wrote in English-language Xinhua (11/21): "The Iraqis, who still suffer from the worsening security situation, are hardly interested in an international conference on Iraq to be held in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Nov 22-23.... Many educated Iraqis think that the conference, which would focus on providing proper atmosphere for holding the general elections next January, would only result in recommendations and resolutions that are previously prepared and announced as a draft for the concluding statement. It would not be more than wishes by the international community to establish democracy in Iraq.... A cleric, who asked not to be named, said that he knew from the media the concluding statement of the conference, stressing that 'it is not balanced, for it condemns terrorism, kidnapping and assassination, but it does not mention the right of the Iraqis to resist the occupation, which is a legitimate one according to all international rules, and also they should have made a timetable for the withdrawal of the occupation forces.' The draft statement included vague sentences like 'it salutes efforts of the interim government and other leaders of the Iraqi society to widen its political participation by encouraging all the elements that refuse violence to enroll in the political and electoral process in a peaceful way'.... Ahmed Hussein, a university professor, termed the conference and a decision made by the Paris Club on Saturday to cancel 80 percent of Iraq's debt as attempts by the international community to help Iraq. He said that although the canceling of the debts represented a basic element in the reconstruction of Iraq, it would not be priceless. The price would be the control of the Iraqi economy by the International Monetary Fund, and the canceling of Iraq's debt would be in three stages, none of which would be carried out unless the Iraqi economy improves and is thus certified by the International Monetary Fund, he said."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Fresh Steps Taken On The Road To A New Iraq"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post said (11/24): "It looks as though the ambitious January 30 date for parliamentary elections will be supported. This is positive, as continued progress towards fully fledged Iraqi democracy and self-rule is the only route towards stability. However, there should be no illusions about the hard work required if the country is to be ready for the poll. The meeting (in Egypt) also called on bordering countries to cut off support for foreign fighters and to stop allowing them overland access into Iraq.... The means for delivering on these goals will have to be created quickly and preparations for the poll remain crucial. The threat of a boycott by Sunni groups has to be averted. Steps have to be taken to assure the ethnic minority it will be adequately represented on the ballot and in the new government, especially after the assassinations of two outspoken Sunni leaders. Wide acceptance of the election depends on broad and free anticipation. Conversely, a poll without legitimacy sets the stage for fractiousness, even civil war. Despite the important role that security will play in the poll and the group's call for more commitment to protect UN workers in charge of the preparations, no new troop deployments were expected to be promised at the meeting. This is a matter that governments--including Iraq's neighbors, which stand to be affected by regional instability--should give serious and immediate consideration to.... The decision to relieve some of the Iraqi public's debt burden was a laudable one, but by itself is insufficient to assure the country's future. Perhaps, however, it will provide momentum for dealing with the challenge of providing safe and representative elections in January."
JAPAN: "Empty Answers On Iraq"
The liberal Asahi editorialized (Internet version, 11/27): "[PM] Koizumi delivers the same rhetoric about the SDF.... The mandate for the Self-Defense Forces' mission in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah expires on Dec. 14.... Thursday's deliberations in the Diet could have been an important opportunity for the prime minister to voice his intentions.... Does Samawah still qualify as a 'noncombat zone'?... How did the SDF activities in Samawah...contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq?... What will be the diplomatic consequences if the SDF's mission is either extended or terminated? The prime minister was supposed to have fully answered these questions in the Diet debate. Instead, true to form in a certain way, all we heard was familiar rhetoric.... Apparently, Koizumi intends to finalize the extension of the SDF mission first within the Cabinet, and then to announce it in a news conference. He will probably attempt to ward off criticism and questions until then. But according to many recent opinion polls, more than 60 percent of the Japanese public oppose extending the SDF mission.... Recent polls show that the public is uncertain about whether Iraq can really be reconstructed under the current circumstances. The results reflect public opinion that says Japan should stop and reconsider the SDF mission. If the prime minister continues to 'stick his head in the sand,' the public will not be able to accept an extension of the SDF mission."
Modernist muslim Republika editorialized (11/24): "US colonialist troops feel they have implemented their own version of democracy in Iraq. Once again, the demolition of this country is not right. Children were killed, it is not right -- they were not even American children! Maybe they think that democratization in a country can be established by using arms. They are not aware that it is possible to hold a general election, but a general election held by force with a background of enmity will create a choked democracy with obstacles everywhere, and it will be ruined mid-stream. Isn't it very ironic -- democracy through oppression -- an oppressing democracy?.... Diplomats who gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for two-day talks on the situation in Iraq have to all-out ask for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and the hand over of all matters -- including democratization -- to the Iraqi people.... If US troops are withdrawn, it will be easier to create harmony. Believe it. But the reality of the situation is not like that. US troops have purposely been deployed in Iraq to colonize this country. Even though all the reasons for attacking Iraq have been proven wrong, US troops remain in Iraq. So this country has intentions other than freeing Iraq from Saddam's oppression. It is replacing his oppression with US oppression. Hoping is legitimate. The result of the diplomat and foreign minister meeting still has to be questioned. The facts show that Middle Eastern countries are ambivalent to the attack of Bush's troops. If Bush is successful, they worry that the United States will expand its looting to the countries surrounding Iraq. If he fails, Iraq will become more enraged and its heat will impact these neighboring countries. It is not proper for countries which are concerned to just fold their hands and watch their brothers be brutally slaughtered. There has to be steps taken to extinguish the conflict, particularly from the United States as the most responsible party in the conflict. These steps should not spark conflict, not make Iraqi people suffer, and not desecrate mosques with the trampling of American soldiers' boots."
SOUTH KOREA: "Timing Of Iraq Elections"
The independent, English-language Korea Herald commented (Internet version, 11/29): "Barely two months are left before the first democratic election in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. The U.S. occupation authorities and the Iraqi interim government are determined to keep the original date...but not many are convinced the overall security situation will improve to allow orderly polling in most parts of the country. Sunni Islam politicians...have persistently demanded postponing the election for at least six months.... For Washington the ideal scenario will be to hold the election on schedule, promulgate a new Iraqi constitution and establish an independent government in Baghdad under the new charter, completing the whole process without ever needing to augment the occupation force beyond the present strength.... With the Sunni militants' months-long resistance in Fallujah crushed and the majority Shiites apparently seeking to gain power with ballots rather than bullets, the American goal seems to be nearly attainable. But there are too many risks both on the military and political fronts.... Cautious timing is important for the process of 'Iraqification.' Effective mop-up operations through the labyrinthine alleys of old Iraqi cities require time, and so do wise political approaches to the different sects and shades of Iraqi society. The new Bush administration is advised to give deep thought to the Iraqi election schedule so as not to spoil what has been achieved on the road to establishing democratic rule in the country, now the only viable cause for a war that is already 20 months old."
THAILAND: "Two Months To Get It Right"
Top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post commented (11/28): “The world leaders were acting on the correct belief that the only sure way to break the back of the insurgency is to establish an effective and representative government to take the place of the current interim government, which is widely seen to be merely an extension of the occupying power. However, in order for the elections to realize their intended goal it is necessary that one, there be some sort of sort of an open process to select viable candidates and two, all major sections of society must be willing and able to participate. At the present time, these two conditions are far from being satisfied, and two months is not a very long time.... If legitimate elections are to take place in two months, a dialogue must be established quickly, and like it or not, it will probably have to include some who have given at least moral support to the insurgents.”
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Salve To The UN"
The nationalist Hindustan Times editorialized (11/29): "The war in Iraq has brought to the fore the question of the future of the rule of law and the United Nations. As Secretary-General Kofi Annan pointed out some months ago, going by the UN charter, the war was 'illegal'.... The UN charter permits wars of two kinds--for self-defense and those at the express orders of the UN Security Council.... Even while proposing new criteria for the legitimacy, the panel does not seem to have provided any room for the new U.S. doctrine of preventive war, especially if the threat is not 'imminent'.... America's view will be critical to the proposal when they come up before the UNSC and UNGA, and the new Bush administration does not provide easy answers as to what these will be. But even the U.S. knows that though it has taken Iraq apart, to put it back requires the world community which will only come forward under the auspices of the UN, however flawed it may be."
The centrist Hindu argued (11/25): "With the election commission of Iraq deciding to hold parliamentary elections on January 30, 2005, the United States-led forces in illegal occupation of the country apparently believe that they have enough time to crush the freedom movement. Emboldened by their recent success in recapturing the city of Fallujah, the commanders of these forces have claimed they will be able to accomplish this task. However, their hopes are not likely to be fulfilled since the Iraqi resistance has displayed a remarkable capacity to adapt itself to changing circumstances.... The devastation caused by the military operations in Fallujah can only increase Iraqi resentment towards the occupation forces.... The military successes notched up by the occupation forces have made the problems they have to contend with even more complex. With the resistance targeting the soft-underbelly of the occupation, a large number of troops will have to be stationed in Fallujah for a long period to protect the reconstruction crews. As a result, these forces are not likely to have sufficient strength to 'pacify' the rest of the Sunni belt. Given this situation, it does not appear likely that any sort of credible electoral exercise can be conducted in a region where about a fifth of the Iraqi population resides.... The Iraqi Interim Government will do all it can to weigh down on some Sunni politicians to enter the electoral fray. However, these political groups have always sided with the resistance rather than the puppet regime when it came to the crunch."
IRAN: "Dark Secrets About The Iraq Election"
Hassan Hanizadeh commented in the conservative, English-language Tehran Times (11/24): "General Richard Meyers, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said that a civil war might break out in Iraq after the January 2005 election. These remarks indicate that the United States expects developments in Iraq to mirror the situation in Algeria in the 1990s.... It is quite clear that U.S. officials began to believe that the continuation of active participation by Shia clerics in Iraq’s social and political scenes would endanger their long-term goals in the region. Some of the officials of Arab countries on Iraq’s borders also hold similar views because the formation of an independent and democratic government in Iraq based on the vote of the majority would be a potential threat to their governments. For this reason, the U.S. has tried to reinstall some Baath Party agents in government posts and to strengthen the Sunni minority in Iraq, while taking no serious measures to prevent terrorists of the al-Qaida network and the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi group from entering the country, knowing that the two terrorist groups have long-standing enmity toward the Shias.... Although these terrorist groups have no common interests or policies with the United States, they are in agreement with the U.S. on one point, and that is preventing the Iraqi Shias from assuming power. U.S. forces could have prevented these terrorist groups from entering Iraq, but it seems that they have used these criminals as a tool to achieve their long-term goals. Controlling the so-called Sunni Triangle does not seem so difficult, but the U.S. instead gave a green light to Baathists and other terrorists based in the area to eliminate influential Shia figures. Apparently, U.S. officials will spare no effort to hold the Iraqi elections on schedule in order to realize their goals. If one of the popular Iraqi figures...wins the election, the U.S. will encourage Baathists or other terrorist elements based in the Sunni Triangle to assassinate these figures. After eliminating the outstanding leaders of the Iraqi Shia community, the U.S. will then try to impose figures with pan-Arabist tendencies on the Iraqi nation. Therefore, Iraqi religious leaders should be very cautious and avoid showing their hand in order to prevent the implementation of the treacherous U.S. plot to divide the Iraqi nation and foment a civil war between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias."
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