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Europe

European Press Review: Bush Under Pressure

Today’s European press looked at Sunday’s twin bombings in Northern Iraq and the consequences it would have for Bush in the U.S. Presidential elections and for British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Commenting on the U.S. presidential race, the London-based Guardian said the problem for Democratic voters is finding somebody who can beat President George Bush. The paper said this fundamental consideration goes some way towards accounting for John Kerry’s eclipse of anti-war Howard Dean in Iowa. On what is likely to be the issue that Bush will press most strongly namely America’s post 9/11 defence, the Guardian wrote that Vietnam veteran Kelly can argue persuasively that he knows more about the subject than the president. The paper said that while Bush remains a formidable opponent he is still vulnerable particularly since Iraq could yet blow up in his face as the WMD controversy intensifies coupled with his failure to eliminate al-Qaeda.

Austria’s liberal paper Der Standard concerned itself with the announcement by the Bush administration of an independent inquiry into the use of intelligence material to justify the war on Iraq. The paper pondered about Bush’s future course of action if the inquiry turns against him, and if he would sacrifice CIA boss George Tenet by way of apology to those who opposed the war Der Standard said Bush like his ally Blair tried to delegate responsibility over their decisions to go to war. But the Austrian paper wrote that ultimately it is the President who carries political responsibility for the war and for the intelligence used to justify the war.

Commenting on Sunday’s twin suicide bomb attacks in Arbil, France’s Le Figaro asked does one now have to fear a civil war in Iraq? The conservative paper said despite the appeasing expressions of the Kurdish leaders, the danger of destruction for Iraq from a mosaic of ethnic groups is rising in the north. Le Figaro wrote that the principal purpose of the assassination attempts is to undermine stability in Iraq’s north.

Italy’s daily paper IL Messaggero wrote that Sunday’s devastating attack against Kurds could have dire consequences for President Bush. It wrote that the U.S. president hoped that the spectacular capture of Saddam Hussein would not only bring peace to Iraq but also guarantee his re-election to the White house.Il Messagero said the twin bombings only emphasized the unstable situation in Iraq not just within the Sunni triangle but also in the Kurdish north.

The German paper Die Welt saw the attacks in Northern Iraq as a foretaste of what would happen if the U.S. leaves the country without having won the battle. The paper said that Iraq would then become embroiled in civil war.

The Handelsblatt of Düsseldorf doesn’t expect the situation in Iraq to improve any time soon. The newspaper said the U.S. would leave the country within the next half year, the U.S. civil administration would disappear and only the soldiers would remain to combat the unending violence. This, it said, needs to be taken into account when discussing a leading role for NATO in Iraq.