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Europe

Carving Up Iraq

Plans by the U.S. to divide Iraq into three sectors occupied by U.S., British and Polish troops dominate the editorial pages of Europe's key newspapers on Monday.

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Many papers comment on Washington’s plan to carve Iraq into three sectors, each controlled by a war coalition partner, with initial control going to the United States, Britain, and Poland. Berlin’s Tagesspiegel comments: "If Poland and Britain want to help make peace in Iraq and, like Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and eastern Europe, want to send troops there, then they’re doing something that France and Germany would only do hesitantly." Giving Iraq stability is in the interest of all Europeans, the paper continues, so Poland’s lead role in this is not grounds to criticize, but rather to celebrate.

But the Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich warns that Poland shouldn’t lose sight of the mosaic of American interests. "It appears that with the division of Iraq into sectors, the US wants to deepen the divisions in Europe, strengthening Poland in order to weaken France and Germany," the paper warns.

De Standaard in Brussels comments on the fact that European foreign ministers have charged their current chief, Javier Solana, with the creation of a common foreign policy doctrine. However, the paper points out, the decision by the US and Britain to create controlled zones in Iraq reveals that the European Union still has its work cut out for it.

And Switzerland’s Basler Zeitung says that despite attempts by Europe to come to agreement on Iraq, superpower America continues to set the course for global foreign policy. The paper comments: "America acts ... and Europe doesn’t even react, it thinks about what it would want, if it could have what it wanted, at some point in the future."

The Times of London comments on Syria’s decision to close the offices of three militant organizations: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The decision is welcome, says the Times, but it didn’t come out of any conviction that these organizations are damaging the prospects for peace. "Syria made the decision because it was warned, in the bluntest possible terms, by Colin Powell that America would no longer tolerate this backing for terrorism," the paper says. "The Syrians have, for now, understood that the American victory in Iraq has changed the entire landscape in the Middle East."

The Norwegian paper Aftenposten looks at reconciliation attempts by India and Pakistan and comments: "It seems that both countries have concluded that confrontation is not productive, and that it’s time to break down tensions on both sides. This realization didn’t come on its own -- international, and especially U.S. mediation behind the scenes has aided this positive development." But the paper warns that both countries are still a long way off from getting to the bottom of their problem -- Kashmir.