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Europe

European Press Review: Iraq Spins Out of Control

The weekend attack against U.S. troops in Iraq and the ongoing instability in the postwar country was the focus of Europe’s editorials on Monday.

Britain’s The Guardian said the situation in Iraq is spinning out of control and the weekend attack on the U.S. helicopter only underlines Washington’s inability to establish security. The assault makes the world’s most technologically advanced military power look even more vulnerable than it did before, the paper asserted. It commented that no matter what President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld say after such an attack, it’s never about how they are going to stop the violence from continuing in the futuere.

In the eyes of Germany’s Frankfurter Rundschau, the war is not over. The helicopter crash over the weekend proves that fighting is still ongoing, the paper stated. But it cautioned that blaming the attacks on loyalists to Saddam Hussein’s old regime is wearing thin and no longer holds as an excuse for the majority of people. The reality is that the American-led coalition forces are entering a new phase of an old-style war.

Comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam are fairly common these days, but Rome’s La Stampa was of the opinion that Iraq is turning into an Afghanistan scenario, and that the Americans face the same type of situation on the Golf as the Soviets did during their occupation of the war-torn country. The real risk in Iraq is that it’s becoming an exercise base for terrorism, the paper warned.

Following the arrest of the Russia’s richest man a week ago, Michael Khodorkovsky, head of the country’s largest oil company Yukos, the Parisian paper La Tribune tried to step into Russian shoes by pondering what wound happen if French President Jacques Chirac would let one of the most influential businessmen in France be thrown in prison and then allow the seizure of his assets and possessions. "It’s inconceivable, this would never be possible in France," the paper concluded. "And yet, it’s possible in one of the eight richest countries in the world: Russia."

The Sunday parliamentary election in Georgia was the editorial focus in Moscow’s Kommersant, which evaluated the advantages and disadvantages of incumbent President Eduard Shevardnadze’s politics. His good contacts with the West are definitely a plus, noted the paper. These ties ensure that financial and military aid continue to pour into the country and that Russian fingers stay off Georgian territory. On the other hand, though, the paper considered Georgia an unusually weak country with rebel areas. The security forces are unable to do much because they are a slave to the presidential authority, and the country lacks liberal economists with sustainable strategies for the future. Any kind of sound future depends on how quickly Georgians can shed their Shevardnadze-complex, the Moscow daily concluded.

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