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Europe

European Press Review: High Noon in Mosul

European newspapers regarded the death of Saddam Hussein’s sons as welcome news for American troops in Iraq, while several questioned why the international community still hasn’t sent an intervention force to Liberia.

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U.S. soldiers stormed a house in Mosul, Iraq, where they believed Saddam Hussein's sons were hiding out.

Smiling out from the front covers of many European papers on Wednesday are the plump, mustached faces of Uday and Qusay Hussein. High noon in Mosul, wrote the Italian paper La Repubblica. It described the execution of Saddam’s sons in a shoot-out with American troops as the first really good day for U.S. President George W. Bush since the toppling of the giant Saddam statue in the center of Baghdad in April.

For France’s left-leaning daily Libération, the news signaled a clear and significant victory for President Bush, as well as a huge relief for the people of Iraq. Until Saddam himself is captured or killed, it warned, the attacks on British and American troops in Iraq will continue.

But wherever Saddam is hiding, he’s now more alone than ever, remarked another Italian paper, Milan’s Corriere della Sera. The paper wondered why Saddam’s two sons chose to hide in the Mosul, rather than in their strongholds of Tikrit or Ramadi, and speculated that they may have been trying to extend anti-American resistance into northern Iraq.

London’s The Times commented that it would have been better to capture the two men alive and interrogate them on their involvement in the deadliest acts of Saddam’s regime. Many of these secrets have died with them, it wrote. But the paper regarded the celebratory shots fired on the streets of Iraq as a sign that the announcement of the deaths will bring about a dramatic turn for the better.

For the United States, the desire for a regime change in Iraq was seen as sufficient justification for an attack, wrote the Algemeen Dagblad in the Netherlands. The paper went on to accuse the Bush administration of using double standards when it comes to the crisis zones of Africa. The U.S. and Europe regard mass murder in Liberia or Congo with indifference, or pity at best, it stated. African nations are expected to solve their problems by themselves. The paper asked pointedly whether this could have something to do with the fact that Iraq has oil and Liberia has none. It concluded that the difference in treatment is certainly cynical.

Britain’s The Independent also referred to oil when it warned that the prospect of neighboring Nigeria being drawn into the Liberian conflict should be argument enough to persuade the Bush administration to act. Nigeria has oil, and plenty of it, noted the paper, but it also has enough problems of its own; and although West African countries should be able to frame a local solution, their track record is not encouraging.

One would think it would be the principal duty of every state to intervene in Liberia for the sake of peace, wrote Austria’s Der Standard. Tens of thousands of people are trapped in the capital Monrovia between the advancing rebels and the army of president Charles Taylor. The paper likened it to sitting in the inner circle of hell. But, it wrote, nothing is being done. It commented that the world appears to be trying to sit out the crisis on the sidelines.

According to the Financial Times Deutschland, based in Hamburg, the international community has no choice – it must intervene. The transfer of 4,500 U.S. troops to the region is to be welcomed, it wrote, but the world has to ensure that Liberia doesn’t become a so-called "failed state." The paper pointed out that Afghanistan and Somalia have already illustrated the dangers that emanate from a country in ruin.