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Europe

European Press Review: Chaos Looms in Iraq and Afghanistan

Editorials across the continent on Friday looked at the findings of a British parliamentary committee report into the war against terrorism and at the troubles in Sudan.

London's Independent newspaper said the findings depict almost unmitigated disaster in Iraq and only a slightly lesser debacle in Afghanistan. The two countries which became the test-beds for U.S. and British efforts to root out global terrorism are teetering on the brink of chaos, the paper wrote. The only surprise in all this is that the committee itself appears not in the least to be surprised by what it has uncovered. We reap what we have sown, the paper warned.

Another British paper, the Daily Mail, described the report as a devastating indictment of a Prime Minister who dragged Britain to war on a false pretences. Iraq, which was bitterly opposed to Osama Bin Laden, is now a battle ground for al Qaeda, with appalling consequences for the Iraqi people. Most chilling of all is that Iraq is poised to become a "failed state", plunging the Middle East into utter chaos, the paper wrote. And as if all this were not disturbing enough, the other center of the war on terrorism, Afghanistan, is also at risk of imploding unless more Western support is forthcoming.

The French daily Le Monde, expressed its concern about Afghanistan now that the Paris-based charity, Médecins Sans Frontières has decided to pull out of the country after five of its members were killed by Taliban guerillas. Certainly, no security can be maintained there without a sufficient military presence and without a clear strategy. Without security there also can be no economic development and no political reconstruction, the paper stated.

Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung turned its attention to the humanitarian disaster in Sudan and was highly critical of three out of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Like the complaints that America was fighting the Iraq war because of oil, we could also say the same now for France, Russia and China in the case of Sudan. Calling it “oil for corpses”, the paper said that these three countries prevented sanctions against the ruling clique in Khartoum out of pure economic expediency. America, the paper commented, has been left alone, while the EU has withdrawn to the VIP lounge.

The Austrian daily, Salzburger Nachrichten, agreed, calling the international community a fiction. The Darfur drama shows that profit counts more than humanitarian solidarity, the paper said. Russia fears for its lucrative arms sale, while France and China worry about losing access to oil.

Another Austrian paper, Der Standard, blamed the Moslem world for the toothless UN resolution on Sudan, in particular Pakistan and Algeria. The Arab League vehemently supported Khartoum. The more time that is wasted with diplomatic trench warfare, the more people will die in Sudan, the paper warned.

Looking at the history of the conflict in Sudan, the Russian newspaper, Kommersant, commented that the Arabs and the black Africans cannot stand each other; they hate each other; they kill each other; and it all depends on the price of oil. When the price of oil is low, the domestic conflict is restricted to skirmishes among youth gangs, but unfortunately for Sudan, oil was discovered, so that now the gang wars have grown into outright genocide, the paper concluded.