March 3, 2005
POST-ELECTION IRAQ: 'A FRAGILE AND INCIPIENT' DEMOCRACY
** Shiites voted into the "control room" have an "historic opportunity."
** Ibrahim al-Jaafari is poised to assume challenges as a "transitional premier."
** Terrorists follow the "same old pattern" to derail efforts to "reunify the country."
** Iraq remains a key "laboratory" and "lighthouse" for democracy.
'The blue Iraqi finger' impressed-- Even skeptics were impressed by the "long lines of courageous or idealistic Iraqi voters who went to the polling stations on January 30," conceding that the vote offered "an opportunity for rapprochement between various [Iraqi] elements." While media worldwide accepted the coalition Shiite victory behind Ibrahim al-Jaafari as a valid result, a Nigerian daily remarked that Iraq's "problems are legion and are still being compounded every day." Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Madina noted, representatively, global concern over the upcoming writing of Iraq's constitution, and questioned whether it was in the "best interest of Iraq for Sunnis to remain uninvolved in the political process."
Ibrahim al-Jaafari prevailed, but 'huge challenges await him'-- Punctuating unequivocal acknowledgement "that al-Jaafari would almost certainly become the new prime minister," Berlin's centrist Der Tagesspiegel cautioned, "Iraq will need support for a long time to come." Writers expressed concern that al-Jaafari "personifies the smallest common ground of this heterogeneous society" and some posited that as a Shiite, he "may move for stronger and better ties with Iran.” Observers agreed that, key to resolving challenges and removing "basic obstacles," al-Jaafari needed to promote a moderate non-sectarian approach that would "prompt the Kurds and the Sunnis to step into the same governing boat."
Iraq 'in the grip of violence'-- Commentators noted "bombings and killings" in Iraq remained "the rule rather than the exception." They wrote about February 28's "odious attack against civilians in Hilla" that represented a "bloody, bitter strike against hope." An Asian outlet characterized the attack as an "attempt to blackmail the people of Iraq, who hold great expectations for a transparent political system and for the restoration of public security." Spain's independent El Mundo warned that dissidents were working to keep "Iraq a powder keg," and Japan's business-oriented Nikkei added that Iraq still faced "insurgent attempts to block the political process." Chillingly, Pakistan's centrist News judged, "this latest attack has demonstrated that the resistance forces are in no way losing their power and strength."
Aid needed to secure the 'fragile and incipient Iraqi democracy'-- Euro analysts averred that the West "should not fail with its attempt to help a young democracy." Iraq's January 30 elections "impressed even skeptics in Europe" and "having opened a chapter towards restoring peace to the embattled country, will encourage many countries to lend a hand in reconstructing Iraq," opined Nigeria's independent New Age. Iraq's electoral exercise presented an "historic opportunity" considering that "Iraq is the big laboratory, where the coalition and the new parliament are trying to find a formula that will lead the country to full democracy."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan
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 32 reports from 14 countries over 23 February to 3 March 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed in the most recent date.
GERMANY: "According To The Same Old Pattern"
Stefan Kornelius editorialized in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/1): "This was the most serious bomb attack after the end of the war; it was directed against the Shiite majority and especially against the volunteers who wanted to work for the government and are considered accomplices of the United States. We owe it to the Shiite leadership that the attacks have thus far not resulted in greater instability.... It is true that the gentle plant of stability is not in immediate danger after the attack in Hilla, but it does not really want to grow either. Law and order will be possible only if the Iraqis themselves are able to create it, i.e. if there is a sufficient number of police officers on the streets and if the U.S. forces leave the country. The attackers, however, always manage to destroy hopes for such a moment."
Jacques Schuster had this to say in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (3/1): "With an impressive vote...the Iraqis proved that they are interested in reconstruction, peace and stability of the country. There was even more, the election result and the circumspect policy of the winners of the election remind us of a principle that is true for every form of classical terrorism. The effects of terrorism are comparably small in contrast to the public attention it gets. The more successful terrorism is in destabilizing a country, the more effective will be the organization of counter forces that will, in the end, lead to the fall of the militants. Since the election, these forces are slowly becoming visible in Iraq. The terrorists did not achieve a single one of the goals they hoped to achieve by using force. They did not succeed in driving the Americans out of the country and they did not plunge Iraq into a civil war. On the contrary, the country is developing. Even the Europeans acknowledged this--without pressure from Washington. It was the blue Iraqi finger that impressed even skeptics in Europe."
"In The Grip Of Violence"
Stephan-Andreas Casdorff opined in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (3/1): "More than 100 people killed, more than 100 people injured.... This is Iraq today, this is Iraq almost on a daily basis...and slowly optimism is dwindling that Iraq will be able to get its security problem soon under control. It is clear that those who want to join the security forces, will now hold back. The attack was directed against the willing people in the county. It is also clear that the date for the withdrawal of U.S. forces is no longer foreseeable. Iraq will need support for a long time to come. The main reason is that the United States, and the West as a whole, should not fail with its attempt to help a young democracy. In one, two, or five years, Iraq must become a success model, must radiate to the region and the must show to the people in the Near and Middle East that it is worthwhile to rise against regimes. If life is better than before, the effects on the Arab world will be enormous. The attack was a bloody, bitter strike against hope, but hope should not die."
"Inducing An Opposite Effect"
Right-of-center Braunschweiger Zeitung editorialized (3/1): "The suicide attacks will create the opposite of what they tried to achieve. It may sound cynical but the suffering of the people will reduce resistance against the U.S. occupiers, since the attacks are no longer directed only against the U.S. soldiers. Nobody may predict when terror will collapse, but we can assume that it will not last forever. This is true not only for Iraq. Violence that is used against democratically legitimized regimes will bomb itself to the sidelines."
Center-right Märkische Allgemeine of Potsdam stated (3/1) "The elections at the end of January are a good example of the basic obstacles that are opposed to a democratization of the Arab world. The first election for decades has hardly contributed to pacifying the country. The main reason is that the majorities are based on religious and ethnic groups. Societies that are marked by clans and a steeped in by religion do not choose political concepts but only (re)produce explosive power structures of the population. In Iraq, this means that the Shiite majority has legitimized its dominant position towards the Sunnis who ruled under Saddam. Now everything will depend on whether it is possible to prompt the Kurds and the Sunnis step into the same governing boat."
"Terror Attack In Iraq"
Right-of-center Münchener Merkur editorialized (3/1): "For the Jihadis of many parts in the world, Iraq has turned into a playground where Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds try to pursue their own goals. The most recent and most serious terror attack in Iraq shows how this happens.... People in the West may now wonder about 'democratic elections' in Iraq and push aside, by praising themselves, that the election created new wounds, raised more questions and created dangerous hopes. The next attack, whoever will be responsible for it, will not wait long in coming."
"Chameleon With Clear Profile"
Peter Muench commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/24): "If there is one thing that unites Iraqis it is the desire for a strong leader.... Yet, in a democracy each group claims its rights. Given these old and the new demands, any government faces failure. The job description for the office of the Iraqi government leader describes a political chameleon with a clear profile, who is able to unite the country.... Jaafari personifies the smallest common ground of this heterogeneous society. That the Shiite parliamentary majority has nominated him for the office of the prime minister means that he is getting closer to it, but nothing more than that. If he wants to succeed in the upcoming vote he must forge new alliances. The potential allies will make costly demands.... Parallel to the ethnic-religious rift there is an even more dangerous trench. One the one side, there are the advocates of an Islamic state, and representatives of a secular western democracy stand on the other side. The fight over it has just begun. Jaffari must reach compromises. This will not make him a strong leader."
"Moderate Islamic State"
Karl Grobe commented in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (2/23): "The Iraqi alliance prevented the worst case in the attempt to form a government. The opportunist Chalabi was not nominated. Jaafari is set to become the head of government. He is believed to be a moderate Shiite, but one can hardly fail to notice that he is the leader of one of the religiously motivated parties of the Shiite alliance. He could do nothing if Sistani and the U.S. Embassy did not agree. Washington now got what it deserved, having said again and again that Iraq should become the lighthouse of democracy. Following the January elections, Iraq will become a moderate Islamic republic; Jaafari's partners have to make sure that it will be moderate."
ITALY: "To Unleash A Vendetta And Lead The Country To Civil War"
Guido Olimpio stated in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (3/1): “Hilla, Beirut, Tel Aviv. Three cities covered with blood by suicide bombers.... In Iraq, they want to push the country toward a civil war. In Lebanon, they are trying to prolong Syrian hegemony by annihilating the opposition. In Israel they are trying to hinder the resumption of talks.... The tidal wave began in Baghdad and may reach Beirut, and then hit Jerusalem and Damascus with devastating effects. Iraq is the big laboratory, where the coalition and the new Parliament are trying to find a formula that will lead the country to full democracy.... Al Zarqawi...is hoping to provoke a violent reaction. For now, the Shiites just take it, as they prefer to follow political channels. Their electoral victory has taken them to the control room and they don’t want to waste this historic opportunity. Iraqi citizens look on with fear and hope.”
“Shiites Make Their Choice"
Lorenzo Cremonesi in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (2/23): “They chose him because he’s religious, but also a moderate. He is a leader who can satisfy the expectations of the Shiite masses and also placate the concerns of a secular Iraq; and especially because in ten months’ time elections for a long-term government will be held. Ibrahim Jaafari will be a transitional premier, although he will be the premier of the first democratically elected government in the history of modern Iraq.... But huge challenges await him. In addition to the fight against terrorism, he knows he must find a modus vivendi with government partners on the Kurdish ticket. Above all, he must contain their aspirations for autonomy. And at the same time he will have to begin talks with the Sunnis, who abstained from the elections.”
BELGIUM: "Odious Attack In Hilla"
Foreign editor Gerald Papy editorialized in independent La Libre Belgique (3/1): “The long lines of courageous or idealistic Iraqi voters who went to the polling stations on January 30 had given hope to even the most skeptical observers that Iraq was soon going to turn the page of years of dictatorship, of war, and of terrorism. Yesterday’s odious attack against civilians in Hilla has ruined this hope… This attack should convince Iraqi leaders and their American sponsors that only an action on several fronts will enable them to prevail over barbarism. This action must include a military component, i.e. urgently training a police force, reintegrating former Baas party militants, reinforcing controls at borders to stop the arrival of terrorists, and forming competent intelligence services to fight these terrorists. But first and foremost, this fight will only be successful if it is combined with a political action that gives the Iraqis both a timetable for the withdrawal of the current foreign troops--which would be replaced by a force under a UN flag--and a genuine political program where all communities--including the Sunnis--would be united to restore the country. Nothing similar has been undertaken since the elections. What a missed opportunity. Yet, the time it will take to see a pacified Iraq depends on the strategy that is being implemented today.”
SPAIN: "Terror In Iraq And Gestures Of Syria"
Independent daily El Mundo opined (3/1): "The big challenge consists in...involving the Sunni minority in the new political system. Without the support of the Sunnis, the fragile and incipient Iraqi democracy not only will lack legitimacy...but also will end up in a systematic boycott. Many things also depend on the situation of neighboring Syria, whose Baathist regime shelters and serves as reference to the Iraqi resistance.... Huge international pressure...seems to have started giving results...Syria continues being a less reliable country and Iraq a powder keg."
Left-of-center daily El País remarked (3/1): "In spite of the hope created after the first pluralist elections in 50 years, nobody of good faith can ensure that the perspectives for the democratization of the old feud of Saddam are today much better than they were some months ago.... After two years of U.S. occupation and some ten billon dollars spent, a commitment of living together between Iraq's principal ethnic and religious groups is still being built. And there is a distinct lack of the rule of law. Washington has abandoned the tasks to create a pre-democratic order and concentrates all its efforts on combating the multiple rebellious forces.... This critical situation urgently demands the start of a representative government.... But maybe the most pertinent of the promises of the Shia candidate to lead the government, is to fight against terrorism. Perhaps what Bush and his government have not achieved in order, a solid Shia power is in condition to obtain."
TURKEY: "Iraq At A Turning Point"
Hasan Cemal opined in mass appeal Milliyet (3/1): “Will we ever see a decrease in the terror and violence in Iraq? This is a tough question, especially after the most recent and bloodiest terrorist attack yet in Iraq. There seem to be two major factors that could play an important role in decreasing the violence. Sunni participation in the Iraqi administration is one of them. The other is the timing of the end of the American occupation.... There is an ongoing effort in Iraq to persuade Sunni groups to join in the political process even though they largely boycotted the elections. It is believed that the Iraqi resistance movement will experience a serious blow if and when Sunnis are taken into the political structure.... The withdrawal of American forces is a subject of controversy. Some Iraqis strongly argue that violence and terror will dramatically decline once the U.S. announces a pullout date. Others, mostly Shiites and Kurds, argue that the early withdrawal of American forces will pave the way for a new kind of chaos in the country. It is quite possible to envision all Iraqi groups being a part of the political process if U.S. clearly defines the terms for a pullout rather than declaring a date.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "Towards An Expanded Government In Iraq"
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (2/24): "The upcoming phase, regardless of the negative results of the occupation, provides an opportunity for rapprochement between various [Iraqi] elements... if those elements, which gained wide support in the elections, could provide room for those who are willing to join in the constitutional and the government work. This would lead to expansion of participation. Likewise, it would be extremely useful to calm things down there."
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (2/24): "The first test that the new government in Iraq faces will be writing the constitution. Al Ja’fary called upon the Sunnis, who did not hide their concerns about the possibility of sectarian tendencies evolving in Iraq, to help in drafting the constitution. The question is: Is it in the best interest of Iraq for Sunnis to remain uninvolved in the political process and developments? This question will remain unanswered until the end of this year when Iraqis vote on their new constitution, and hold a general election that will determine Iraq’s destiny.
Independent Addustour published (3/2): "If districts that suffered from instability during the elections on January 30 had a chance to participate in that election, it would not take long to establish the transitional government. We need to establish that government as soon as possible. If those districts had a chance to participate in the elections, the current elected national assembly would be dramatically different. Perhaps some of the winning lists would not have had the same representation at the present time. Perhaps, some lists would not have had even one seat. The current political discussions and negotiations would be totally different because the dissenting groups would have their own conditions and attitudes, which might alter the whole political process. If our districts that boycotted elections went to vote and decided to participate in spite of threats, they would have achieved two important demands. The first is that they would have their own representatives in the national assembly and these representatives would symbolize their people's voices and anticipations in the parliament. The second is that they would really participate in putting an end to terrorism so that terrorists would know that they have no place among Iraqis. However, these are mere wishes. But, those who did not participate in the elections have prevented themselves from participating in forming Iraq's future. I think they will be devoted to participating in the upcoming experiments. They have to listen to the country's voice rather than the hiss of the snakes. Now, after all facts are revealed, all Iraqis must bet on the unity of Iraq. They must allow let anyone, other than Iraqis, make their decisions."
"Trotting Around The Stadium"
Independent Azzaman published (3/2): "The delay in announcing the new government has two faces. One face shows deliberateness in discussions to ensure that more groups join the political process. The other face demonstrates worry about political or security vacuums, although the current Iraqi government denies that matter. However, Iraqis' obsessions do not deal in negativism and positivism. They deal with their reality that suffers from clear deterioration of security, which even raids cannot stop, especially like what happened in the Al-Hillah massacre of civilians. Iraqis are looking forward to knowing the results of meals that are cooked behind the scenes. Iraqis do not know what is going on behind those scenes, how dissenters agreed, how allies discussed and how friends became enemies. There is a secret world among the Iraqi politicians. If on any given day you see a politician smiling, the next day you may find him, behind the scenes, worried and fearful. Instability is a malady that spreads quickly among Iraqi politicians. This disease infects these politicians before it infects security, the economy and services in Iraq. Symptoms of that disease are ambiguity and absence of truthfulness among partners, who are in fact not partners. When politicians worry, we see them as if they were trotting around an empty stadium. Those politicians run and run but no one appreciates their effort because there is no attendance at all. We hope that we will see more psychological stability for Iraqi politicians who live worriedly in Iraq, because their psychological stability reflects their performance to serve the country. Will the announcement of the new government be a start for stability or the start of another lap?"
"U.S. Policy And Iraq's Future"
Independent Al Mashreq opined (2/28): "The United States has come to Iraq in the name of establishing a free country. I have spoken a lot about democracy and I announced that Iraq would be the model of democracy in the Middle East and third world. Yes, the U.S came and lost many soldiers and money. This shows us that the U.S does not want Iraq's oil and wealth. However, the heavenly power has inspired the American leaders to go to Iraq to save Iraqis from tyranny. If we hypothesize that this is true, do the events of the past two years represent American policy in Iraq? If we observe Iraq's important location in the Arab Gulf, we would be able to know that the Americans have recognized its importance for decades. Yet, the deterioration of the former Iraqi regime made the Americans suspect Iraq. They thought that if real patriotic Iraqis governed Iraq, this would force the Americans to start over from ground zero. This would render the American plans of the past 25 years useless. For this reason, the Americans hurriedly decided to militarily occupy Iraq and get rid of its political regime. Many Iraqis were happy for this occupation because it saved them from dictatorship. Many Iraqis said that they were very happy to see American soldiers in Baghdad and other afflicted cities. They said that Mr. Bremer was their faithful leader and builder of a new Iraq. Unfortunately, as time passed the Iraqi people grew disappointed by the American conduct although we know that the Americans should have been able to control the situation. In order not to be passive in the American viewpoint, we have to admit that the Americans have been truthful about timing. But, will they continue to be faithful and issue a timetable for withdrawal from cities? Were they telling the truth by announcing that they would rehabilitate Iraq's infrastructures, which were destroyed in the name of war and fighting the outlaws? While we are speaking about this vision and its complexities, let us focus on the Iraqi national role. Can the Iraqi politicians and decision-makers benefit from this picture? Can they switch negative points to positive points concerning what is going on out in Iraq? These politicians must know that they face a difficult examination because they are leaders in front of a great people. As Iraqis, we believe that the reality is different from what is being said on speeches and forums. The difficult exam is waiting for us. Today, we will watch their moves; history will give its verdict and it does not have mercy on anyone. As days go by, we and everyone wait for the American withdrawal, if God's will be done."
"The Task Of Discussions"
The Al Ittihad (affiliated with PUK led by Jalal Al Talabani) stated (2/28): "The current discussions about establishing a transitional government are important and necessary. The new national government should include variety of Iraqi factions, from political parties that won the elections and from those that boycotted the elections. The idea of national consensus states that all Iraqis must participate in the political process so that the government could achieve accomplishments in the coming period, which will be the most important stage after the fall of Saddam. In order to complete that assignment, we have to ensure that all Iraqis will take part in the political process. Discussions are necessary to establish a harmonizing government that represents all Iraqis. Absence of harmony will make the government fail to satisfy people's needs. The upcoming government will draft the first Iraqi permanent constitution and for this reason, it must take into consideration all of Iraq's problems since 1921. There must be a solution for these problems. Discussions must invoke national unity in order to end political, nationalist, sectarian and ethnic maladies that still remain from the old regimes. Discussions must be clear, frank and bold. Discussions must avoid ambiguity, temporary solutions and topical anesthesia for solving Iraq's problems. Iraq is a mixture that comprises different societal sects. The experiences of the past have made Iraq more complicated. However, it does not make sense that a foreign country should be responsible for rearranging the Iraqi house. This house can hold all Iraqis. The current discussions on establishing the new government must call for all the above-mentioned principles and rights. Then Iraqis will be sure that the shining Iraqi sun will never set, and it will illuminate the route to future."
AUSTRALIA: "Iraq’s Legacy"
Waleed Aly, an executive member of the Islamic Council of Victoria, opined in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald (2/25): “if, as Bush envisages, Iraq is to be an inspiration to the region, we are compelled to ask precisely what it will inspire. Iraq's election results might provide an indication.... If developments in Iraq inspire an Islamicization of Middle Eastern politics, it will not necessarily be a smooth ride. Islamic civilization’s golden era was the result of organic intellectual and social development. What we are witnessing now is a desire for religious government borne of years of anger, frustration and revolutionary sentiment. It might take decades for political enlightenment to emerge. In the meantime, the democracy that will be tested is ours. What would our response be if this picture of the Middle East materialized? Would we respect the will of the people and give them the space to find their feet? These just might be precisely the questions the future asks of us.”
"Iraq Result Win-Win For The U.S."
Queensland University of Technology lecturer Josh Ushay remarked in the conservative Brisbane Courier Mail (2/23): “To the U.S., a Shi'ite-Kurd victory over both their theocratic fundamentalist counterparts, and America's ideal choice, solves a number of issues simultaneously. First, it legitimizes the elections and the Iraq War itself. This victory by seemingly moderate indigenous elements helps dispel the perception the U.S. is on an imperialistic crusade against the Muslim world; provides an effective counter to charges that the election was manipulated by an occupying power; and demonstrates consistency between America's actions and its purported ideals.... Second, a Shi'ite-Kurd victory avoids a strategic debacle. A democratically elected theocratic, fundamentalist regime in Iraq would have made the U.S. look foolish, to say the least. It would have been an irony of tragic proportions for the Americans to have sustained such an immense burden--fiscally and otherwise--in meeting a perceived threat, only to have in the end augmented and multiplied that very threat.... The U.S. should view the Shi'ite-Kurd election victory in Iraq as a win-win situation. A forcible regime change, resulting in a democratically elected government with no clear majority, is for the Bush Administration an encouraging regional development with positive global implications. It makes clear the U.S. will not be trifled with, but makes equally clear it is not a bully either. This will come in handy when trying to isolate Iran.“
CHINA: "The Iraq Election: Ibrahim Al-Jaafari As Prime Minister"
Zheng Yongqiu commented in the official popular newspaper Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (2/24): “Ibrahim Al-Jaafari is widely-expected to become the Prime Minister of Iraq. Analysts believe the elevation of Al-Jaafari to prime minister would have several important consequences, they are: First, Al-Jaafari’s fair-mindedness and non-confrontational style would help diffuse tensions among the various Iraqi factions.... Second, Al-Jaafari will likely have more freedom to move policy towards Iraqi goals, and away from U.S. interests--certainly he can be more representative of Iraqi interests than his predecessor, the pro-U.S. Allawi. Third, an Al-Jaafari led government would strike against separation forces in Iraq in an effort to reunify the country.... Fourth, and perhaps most significantly, Al-Jaafari, a Shiite, may move for stronger and better ties with Iran.”
CHINA: (HONG KONG, SAR): "Race For Iraqi Prime Minister Is Still Uncertain"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (3/1): "The Iraqi political situation is again uncertain. The major Shiite alliance nominated Ibrahim al-Jaafari as their candidate for Prime Minister last week. Since the Shiite alliance secured over half of the seats in the Iraqi elections last month, people thought that al-Jaafari would almost certainly become the new Prime Minister. However, when the Prime Minister of the interim government, Iyad Allawi, announced that he would join the race, it became uncertain who would be the new Prime Minister.... Some analysts believe that the political setup after the Iraqi elections may adopt the 'Lebanon' model. In other words, the distribution of power will be shared according to religions, ethnicities and influences. This is a complicated and intense bargaining process. In addition, due to the countless ties between the Iraqi Shiite and Iran, no matter whether a secular leader or a religious leader comes to power, they cannot stop the close contacts and relations between Iraq and Iran. This is what the U.S. is not willing to see. The U.S. launched a war to topple Saddam Hussein and it used military actions to change the regime in Iraq. In the end, it accidentally supported a regime that conflicts with its original plan. The U.S. is picking up a stone to drop it on its own feet."
JAPAN: "Car Bomb Targets Shiites"
Liberal Asahi's Cairo correspondent stated (3/1): "Monday's suicide attack in Hilla, Iraq appears to have been carried out by Sunni rebels targeting Shiite residents in the region. The attack indicates an ongoing lack of public security despite the success of the national assembly elections in January. Minority Sunnis are increasingly dissatisfied with the planned Shiite control of the new administration. Despite continued efforts by the U.S. and the Iraqi transitional government, insurgent attacks have increased since the elections. The latest suicide bombing demonstrates the fact that Sunni participation in the political process and restoring public security are two crucial challenges facing the new government."
"Car Bomb Thwarts Hope"
Top-circulation moderate-conservative Yomiuri wrote (3/1): "The latest suicide bombing appears to be an insurgent attempt to blackmail the people of Iraq, who hold great expectations for a transparent political system and for the restoration of public security. A terrorist group led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi appears to be responsible for Monday's bomb. The Iraqi security authorities, instrumental in facilitating the recent national elections, appear to have a daunting task ahead."
"Bomb Attack Highlights Delayed Restoration Of Public Security"
Business-oriented Nikkei stated (3/1): "The latest terrorist attack in Iraq demonstrates the fact that public safety has not yet been restored despite the success of the January national assembly elections. Although a Shiite-controlled transitional government is expected to be officially launched this week, insurgent attempts to block the political process are likely to undermine the new government's democratization efforts."
PAKISTAN: "The Iraqi Cauldron"
The centrist national English daily, The News commented (3/2): "Needless to say, the blast has also severely dented the hopes and claims of the U.S. and the interim government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that Iraq is on the road to normalcy. In fact, such attacks mark a clear challenge to Iraq's efforts to build a security force that could eventually take over from the Americans. Washington's exit strategy depends on the Iraqi forces shouldering the responsibility for security. However, this latest attack has demonstrated that the resistance forces are in no way losing their power and strength and that the Allawi administration is still not strong enough to tackle them on its own. Thus the much-desired withdrawal timetable by the U.S. is still a pipedream. But despite this, the best option for peace and stability in the country is for the U.S. to quit Iraq and facilitate the involvement of the UN and Iraq's neighbors in settling the affairs of the country."
"The Wonder Of American Strategy"
The sensationalist Urdu daily, Ummat editorialized (3/2): "The people of Iraq are fully aware that the American troops have not entered their country for the establishment of peace or for developmental works, but rather to occupy the oil wealth and to provide protection to Israel. The reasons for continued suicide attacks and killings in Iraq should be found not with the Jihadi organizations, but in the conspiracies and plans that have been hatched to increase the sectarian rift in the country. In these suicide attacks ordinary Iraqi are the worst sufferers and not the American or British troops. Who would like the killings of more and more Muslims in Iraq? An answer to this would be sufficient to point out who is actually responsible for this law and order situation in Iraq.
NIGERIA: "Making The Iraqi Elections Meaningful"
Respected Lagos-based independent daily The Guardian editorialized (2/25): "As a new government gradually emerges in Iraq, following the nomination of Al-Jaafari by the Shiites' coalition, the people of the war-devastated country should be prepared for the serious tasks ahead.... Iraqis must be mindful, however, that the elections are a means to an end. The real task starts next month when the new 275-member National Assembly is expected to convene.... All Iraqis should join hands together to set their country on a path of renewal. The problems are legion and are still being compounded every day by forces within the country, which simply cannot put up with the presence of American and allied soldiers on Iraqi soil. Iraq is yearning for massive reconstruction and a termination of bombings and killings that have become the rule rather than the exception. One way the peace process can be hastened is to work out a definite arrangement for the early exit of American and allied soldiers. The presence of these soldiers is meant to provide protection and security particularly for public office holders. Unfortunately, the same presence has constituted a source of anger among Iraqis who feel that the United States is the architect of their woes.... Hopefully, the Iraqi election, having opened a chapter towards restoring peace to the embattled country, will encourage many countries to lend a hand in reconstructing Iraq.... In the meantime, the United States must take responsibility for the current condition of Iraq and it must exploit ways to redeem its image without indulging in measures, which could further complicate the situation. Peace should be allowed to reign in Iraq by all sides. Without peace, the election will be meaningless, as a concrete process of reconstruction will be impossible."
"Iraq's Political Quagmire"
Lagos-based independent daily New Age editorialized (2/23): "The results of the January 30, 2005 Iraqi parliamentary elections have now been released and the stage appears set, in the estimation of the Iraqi interim government and its American backers, for the next crucial step toward the attainment of more peaceable conditions in that beleaguered country. A new government is expected within days.... Setting up a government may be the easiest of the problems the new administration will confront. Already the insurgents have ratcheted up the violence, with car bombs targeting Shiites and designed, it is believed, to provoke a civil war. Various other factors may unravel what so far has been a relative progress. One daunting task is effecting reconciliation among the violently hostile groups in Iraq. The hostility between the Iraqi central government during the Saddam Hussein regime and the separatists in the Kurdish region may continue to cast a long shadow on peace and reconciliation. The dominant performance of the Kurds in the north could also be interpreted as an endorsement of the irredentist agenda. Some elements in the Kurdish coalition may want to take advantage of the state of flux in the country at large to further such an agenda. Turkey may already be wary of the performance of the Iraqi Kurds, given the restiveness of its own Kurdish population. A major problem for the new government is when--if ever--it will be strong enough to do without American military support. Yet the longer this dependence the more difficult it would be for it to win popular legitimacy. Such is the catch-22 situation. The equally important objectives of restoring law and order and reviving the economy are all tied to the general security situation. Iraqis--as are the Americans--seem trapped in a political quagmire, a predicament compounded by the general regional instability whereby any eruption, such as the recent assassination of former Lebanese Premier Tafiq Hariri, can blow up any carefully made calculations. Nobody envies the Americans their predicament, which they largely brought upon themselves. Pity the poor, hapless Iraqis whose long unhappy country continues to be torn asunder, with prospects of worse to come."
BRAZIL: "Signs From The Arab World"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo commented (2/25): “The move is a discreet one and so far does not characterize a consistent trend, but there are unquestionable indications of democratic advances in the Middle East’s Arab nations.... First, there is the case of Iraq, where an open political dispute among the Shiites preceded the indication of Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister. Jaafari is a member of the majority in an assembly elected through the U.S. enterprise to democratize the nation, according to which foreign tutelage is yielding space for a political dispute between local participants. Then, there is Lebanon, where the population protests on streets against the Syrian military presence.... The Palestinians provided the third example. Majority party Fatah rejected the cabinet proposed by Prime Minister Ahmed Korei because its representatives were linked to Yasser Arafat and associated to corruption.... Also among this series of episodes is Kuwait’s predisposition to suspend the prohibition of women to vote and be elected to office.... U.S. pressures have favored some of these sparse facts. However, they usually occur in societies that have their own dynamics with modernizing sectors that seem to prefer more ventilated forms of government.”
|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|