European Press Review: Aid for Baghdad | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 14.10.2003
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European Press Review: Aid for Baghdad

The editorial pages of Europe’s newspapers on Tuesday focused on proposed EU aid for rebuilding Iraq and on the role of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in the Middle East peace process.

Britain's center-left Guardian criticized the huge amount of European Union aid planned to rebuild Iraq, commenting that many parts of the developing world would benefit immensely from a fraction of the assistance that is now in contemplation for the country. The difference in approach, the paper explained, is essentially an expression of political will, adding that Iraq certainly presents enticing business opportunities. But the shared U.S.-British determination to make of Baghdad a success story also reflects the political costs already incurred, according to the paper. In this sense, the Guardian concluded, every dollar donated towards Iraq's reconstruction is also a contribution to the rehabilitation of their deeply divisive, deeply flawed Iraq policy.

Italy's La Stampa also looked at Iraq's future, asking if the Americans just packed up and left, or set a date for handing over power to the local administration, would there miraculously be peace? The danger of massacres all over the country should not be underestimated should there be no strong authority in Baghdad, the paper wrote.

Le Soir from Belgium pointed out positive developments in Iraq: schools are open again, there is a new freedom of speech, and new money without the image of the toppled dictator Saddam Hussein is on the way. But still, the paper said, nothing really worked out the way American government strategists had expected when they planned the Iraqi invasion.

Other papers comment on the role of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in the Middle East peace process. Germany's Westfälischer Anzeiger wrote Arafat is harming the peace process and delaying the creation of a Palestinian state, but above all he is harming his own people. However, the paper said he should not leave, pointing out that he is an important unifying figure for the Palestinians, who do not have much except Arafat. Even though Arafat is totally isolated in Ramallah and Israel has dismissed him as irrelevant, the Algemeen Dagblad from Holland said, he is expected to prevent the violent Palestinian terror attacks. In so far as the old man still has any kind of authority, Israel has robbed him of any opportunity to use it. As far as Arafat is concerned, the paper concluded, the Israeli government's only concern seems to be whether it should get rid of him or not.