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European Press Review: Iraq's Unending Nightmare

Thursday’s European papers carried commentaries on the impact of the latest suicide bomb attacks in Iraq, as well as the runaway success of U.S. Senator John Kerry in the American Democratic primaries.

Nearly one hundred people were killed in terrorist attacks in Iraq in the space of 24 hours, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung. It pointed out that the victims were people who were supposed to take care of security in the soon-to-be independent country and speculated that what began as resistance to foreign occupation has turned into a "ruthless struggle to prevent Iraq from making a fresh start. The United States may withdraw its troops," the paper said, "but the terror will remain."

Like the Süddeutsche, Rome’s La Repubblica saw the attacks as signs of approaching civil war. "Iraq is in a state of chaos, and the concept of gradual and orderly transfer of power from the Americans to reliable local leaders is just a delusion," the paper commented.

Spain’s El Mundo regarded the attacks as an "unmasking of American propaganda." It said that the American belief that the capture of Saddam Hussein would dramatically weaken the Iraqi resistance has been proved wrong. "What it has shown us is, once again, is that U.S. President Bush is incapable of predicting the consequences of the war on Iraq," El Mundo said. The paper warned that Bush is leading Iraq into disaster, and suggested that the only way out is the creation of a Shiite Islamic Republic – the exact opposite of what the Americans and their allies wanted to achieve.

The Austrian Salzburger Nachrichten wrote that the terrorists’ goals are "purely nihilistic. They want to sabotage a new, pro-American order, and they want to create chaos. But then what," the paper asked. It commented that many of these extremists see Iraq as the battlefield for the fight between the forces of "true Islam" and the "forces of evil," who believe that, if necessary, the Iraqi people must be sacrificed in the struggle.

France’s Le Monde assessed the domestic threat to President Bush and the Republicans from a resurgent political opposition. "Up till now the Republicans have relied on anticipated division within the Democratic party, and a confused battle for the presidential candidacy," the paper wrote. "But the dynamic created by front-runner John Kerry has forced Bush to enter the fray earlier than he’d intended," Monde said.

"Kerry’s support within the party keeps on growing," said the Kurier in Vienna, "because many Democrats just want someone who has a chance of getting Bush out of office. Voters have become increasingly unpredictable," the paper wrote, "they focus on the here and now, not on the long-term. But there’s reason to hope that in the foreseeable future the world may have a serious partner in Washington," it said.

Only the Russian paper Kommersant is unimpressed. "There are lots of things that speak against John Kerry as a candidate," it wrote. "Firstly, he has zero charisma, and he's also been a supporter of the Bush administration in recent years, not least over Iraq. But when it comes down to it," the paper commented, "the citizens and voters and television viewers don’t care whether it’s John Kerry against George W. Bush or Mickey Mouse against Donald Duck – all that really counts is that the election campaign is entertaining."