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Europe

European Press Review: Iraq's New President

Wednesday's European papers commented on Iraq's new interim government: Editorial writers considered what chances it will have to create stability in the country and how the Americans will adjust their strategy.

The Financial Times of London pointed out that “Iraq still has far to go to sovereign self-rule.” But the disagreement with Americans and the United Nations about who should be new prime minister and president may have helped enhance the credibility of the new team. The UN representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, wanted to install a government of technocrats who would not abuse their positions to gain advantage in the national election scheduled for next year. That was probably “too idealistic,” said the paper. But there is an “indisputable role for the UN” in helping achieve the next major milestone, according to the daily: the forthcoming elections. There the UN will have to help register voters and ensure “that Iraq’s three main communities can all participate equally in the process of electing a real government, not selecting an interim one.”

The Moscow paper Kommersant seemed already almost to have given up on the new government. The announcement of the new government may be a success for the USA, but the real question is how long it will last, according to the paper: until June 30th, when power is formally to be handed over, until the U.S. presidential elections in November, or even until January 2005, when elections are supposed to take place in Iraq. There are already bets being placed on extremist Islamist Web sites as to which member of the new government will be

assassinated first, the paper concluded.

The Polish paper Rzeczpospolita was more optimistic; it went as far as to call the appointment of the new government “good news.” It shows that the elite of a possible democratic Iraq has awoken from its lethargy, the daily wrote: It’s not a bad thing that the new leadership has already distanced itself from the Americans. That fits the mood of the Iraqi people. What will decide how well democratization will succeed is how successfully the new leadership can deal with anti-American protest in a peaceful way, the paper noted. The German Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also called the appointment of Ghazi al-Yawer as the new president “a good choice.” He’s an independent-minded man, who has criticized the U.S.-led forces and doesn’t wear western clothes, the paper noted: He leads a tribe which includes both Sunnis and Shiites. His first statements show that he’s trying to create a new sense of an Iraqi identity, the daily continued. But he’ll still be living dangerously. Those who don’t like the way things are going will call him the “servant of the Americans.” Such elements reject anyone who doesn’t get their stamp of approval for their radicalism and fanaticism, the editorial concluded.