Middle East


Reconstructing Iraq

An Iraqi girl, a victim of UXO
Nur, age 8, was injured by an unexploded cluster bomb in Najaf, Iraq (Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP).

Dublin The Irish Times (centrist), April 12: The United States and Britain now bear a huge responsibility, as the invading and now occupying powers, to impose their authority, chart a path toward Iraqi self-rule, and find legitimacy for it through the United Nations....They may be tempted to act as conquerors by asserting control over Iraq’s affairs through a whole range of postwar governing functions under a military administration....And yet U.S. troops in Baghdad are utterly incapable of preventing a foreseeable orgy of looting and destruction.

Århus, Denmark Jyllands-Posten (independent), April 9: Both the United States and its critics in Europe must be aware of their responsibilities. The United States should accept the U.N. as an important partner and supervisor for the world community in Iraq. The other countries should accept that the United States, for the time being, maintains leading control in the [peace] process.
—Ralf Pittelkow

Karachi Dawn (centrist), April 8: Whatever the future political shape of Iraq, it is important that the relief and rehabilitation efforts are kept out of political considerations of the moment or the exigencies of the war. Despite deep suspicions about its role in certain quarters, the U.N. alone is equipped to deal with the massive problems of postwar Iraq.

Athens Kathimerini (conservative), April 10: The “message” sent by George Bush and his close associates toward all the allies in the West is clear.... [The United States] will be the one to define interventions on urgent matters all over the world. Any previous collective “consent” will no longer be necessary from the West, whose interests Washington is now defending.
—K. Aggelopoulos

Glasgow The Herald (independent, moderate), April 11: The U.N. was in the business of nation-building long before the notion of regime change was a twinkle in the Pentagon’s eye. It was the world’s policeman before the United States applied for the job. The collapse of law and order in Iraq may yet prove temporary; or it could be a worrying glimpse of a future ruled by the gun and the gangster. The Iraqi people deserve a better, more certain future. The U.N., as it has proved elsewhere, can deliver it.

Christchurch The Press (conservative), April 11: [Out of Iraq’s] population of 24 million or so, some 4 million—many of them no doubt Iraq’s brightest and best—live outside the country. It is to be hoped that many of those exiles will be attracted back to try to establish good government. The U.N. must also play a role. Although it hardly covered itself with glory in the lead-up to the war, it will be needed now to lend legitimacy to the process of change.

Tokyo Nihon Keizai Shimbun (centrist, business), April 10: Creating an interim ruling authority in postwar Iraq is a job that requires tremendous political finesse. The interests of the major powers are bound to clash head-on over Iraqi oil. The deep rift that developed between the U.S.-British coalition and the antiwar camp...during Security Council debates has yet to be healed. Ideally, the task of reconstructing Iraq should be handled through broad-based international cooperation.

Jakarta Kompas (independent), April 8: Most of [Iraq’s] opposition leaders have lived abroad and are without a strong base inside the country. The network of opposition leaders abroad, being a result of U.S. and British political engineering, has not formed spontaneously, nor is there solidarity among them....If opposition leaders take power, Iraq is not assured better conditions. It may enter into more difficult and complicated ones.

Istanbul Hürriyet (independent), April 9: According to Washington’s plan, the United States foresees a provincial system in postwar Iraq. Iraq will be divided into three main provinces: Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul and Kirkuk (northern Iraq). Those three provinces will be responsible to an administration on top....How is it possible that the Kurds will not have a say in a federal structure? Aren’t the Kurds fighting side by side with the United States to have a say later? Isn’t the United States supporting the Kurds?
—Yalcin Dogan

Chennai The Hindu (centrist), April 9: Clearly, whatever marginal role the U.N. is allowed to play, it will be American rule in Iraq for at least the next six months by men handpicked by the Pentagon and its tough-talking patron saint, Donald Rumsfeld....The remarkable successes in the war will no doubt serve to boost the voice of the Rumsfelds. But this is a perfect recipe for disaster in the Middle East at this juncture when Arab emotions are raw and the street scene is hostile.

Madrid El Mundo (centrist), April 4: [There] are other factors that could, in the end, favor a greater role for the U.N.: the need to recover international credibility, the insistence by [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair and [Spanish Prime Minister José María] Aznar that the U.N. exercise an “important” function, the risks of a postwar scenario becoming a straightforward military occupation of hostile territory, and the urgent need to raise funds for that reconstruction. To recuperate 100 percent of the oil-production capacity will cost 5 billion euros [US$5.4 billion]. There are more motives for cooperation than for unilateralism.

Krakow Tygodnik Powszechny (liberal Catholic weekly), April 13: It is difficult to assume that...the Americans will turn Iraq over to the U.N.’s hands. Outside intervention was able to bring about the downfall of the regime, but the sense of the American intervention was not to turn Iraq into an American protectorate. That is why it has to become a field of cooperation: Russia, France, China, and Germany.

Kingston Jamaica Observer (privately owned, independent), April 10: America and Britain need to find a way to exit Iraq quickly, passing the administration of the country over to the U.N. until an Iraqi administration is put in place....But perhaps more important for America’s credibility is that it begin to pursue an evenhanded policy in the Middle East, particularly as it relates to the Palestinian question. The United States has to review its too-cozy relationship with Israel....And since Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are in this business of enforcing U.N. resolutions, they should have Israel respect those going back to 1967.

Sydney The Weekend Australian (conservative), April 5-6: The war is not over, but a new battle is being waged for the peace. The political remaking of Iraq sees the United States and the world split along an old fracture—the Bushie unilateralists versus the U.N. globalists....The U.S. president agreed about the principle of U.N. involvement. But the real issue is: What sort of involvement? Australia, similar to Britain, believes the U.N.’s legitimacy is pivotal in creating a new Iraqi regime.
—Paul Kelly

Tirana Shekulli (independent), April 9: The United States may feel at the moment less threatened on the other side of the Atlantic, but it is difficult to prevent the terrorists from messing up the Middle East....It must be this awareness that makes [the United States] stick with the idea that postwar Iraq should be administered by a harmonious government, which at the beginning should be a military one and then a civil administration. U.N. engagement will provide legitimacy to any political and diplomatic action.
—Mustafa Nano

Rijeka, Croatia Novi List (independent), April 10: It seems that George Bush, the man who makes the rules of the game in this war and has no intention of depriving himself of that right after military operations....is becoming more in favor of U.N. involvement....That would be a chance to save the U.N.’s honor and at least symbolically start to restore confidence in the United States.