European Press Review: Instability in Iraq and Uncertainty in Washington | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.01.2004
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European Press Review: Instability in Iraq and Uncertainty in Washington

Europe’s newspaper editorials on Monday reacted to the latest terror attack in Iraq and considered the chances of the Democrats in the United States in this years presidential election.

La Stampa from Italy suggests it may not be a coincidence that an attack that killed at least 20 people occurred just a day before the U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, was set to meet with U.N. general secretary Kofi Annan in New York to discuss the future role of the United Nations in Iraq. “Sunday’s suicide bombing could in fact be a bloody warning to Annan not to send his people back to Baghdad,” the paper wrote.

The Guardian from London suggested that Washington is seeking the help of the United Nations because it faces serious problems in “handing over power to an unelected group of Iraqis” by the end of June. “The U.S. plan for a transfer of power is a facade,” criticized the paper and warned Kofi Annan not to make common cause with the United States. “Instead he should support the concept of direct elections. Five months are not too long to prepare a vote,” the paper wrote. “Alternatively the U.N. should offer to take over responsibility for the entire transition to Iraqi rule.”

Other European papers speculated about the chances of the Democrats to beat George W. Bush in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. The French daily Liberation thinks that the elections will be decided by those voters who haven’t yet made up their minds: If the economic upturn isn’t big enough or if the “boys” in Baghdad suffer steady defeats, those undecided Americans will tend to vote for the Democrats, the paper predicted. They will, however, give their vote to Bush, if Osama Bin Laden were to be captured or if the U.S. suffers another terror attack. “The election of the man who will be our planet’s mayor is never a foregone conclusion,” said the paper. The Norwegian daily Aftenposten, however, predicts that it will be very hard for the Democrats to beat Bush pointing out that up to now one subject has dominated the Democratic campaign:. “The opposition to the war in Iraq and the aggressive external policy of George W. Bush.” But the paper said that the Americans still remember the terror attacks on New York and Washington very well – and that’s why it sees “the Democratic election campaign starting with a heavy handicap which will be very difficult to overcome.”