European newspapers on Wednesday were concerned about the escalating violence in Iraq and upcoming elections in the country early next year.
The Daily Telegraph in London observed that the insurgents’ challenge is becoming bolder and that secondly, the hotter the conflict, the greater the risk of alienating moderate Iraqis through the deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire. Yet any administration whose responsibility is to prepare for democratic elections should relentlessly pursue those seeking to create conditions in which a free and fair exercise would be impossible, wrote the daily.
Der Kurier in Vienna pessimistically noted that Iraq was disintegrating before the eyes of the occupiers. The Northern regions are controlled by Kurds who ignored the authority of Baghdad. The US has admitted to doing very little to secure the Sunni triangle ruled by a mixture of Islamists, Saddam loyalists and those who hated Americans, according to the paper. In the Shi’ite region, instability is still prevalent as people there are divided between the moderate cleric Ayatollah al-Sistani and the young rebel cleric Moqtada al Sadr. The paper wondered how elections could be held amidst such unrest and violence remained a mystery even for the United Nations – which was helping Iraq prepare for the ballot.
La Repubblica in Rome stated that the future of Iraq lays in the ability of US-led forces to win back control of lost territories. This is vital for Iraq’s upcoming elections, said the paper. The Italian daily commented that American offensive measures to win back lost areas are being met and would continue to be met with violent attacks from rebel leaders such as Saddam loyalists, the al Qaeda operative Zarqawi and perhaps secret services from neighbouring countries seeking to undermine US efforts.
In Switzerland, the Berner Zeitung called for the withdrawal of US occupying forces from Iraq. Simply stated there will be no peace in Iraq as long as US armed forces and their allies remain in the country, wrote the paper. Only an orderly retreat can pave the way to a genuine new beginning for Iraq. The fact that Iraq needs help from other countries and military support during its re-establishment of law and order is clear, the daily continued. But the US and their allies are not accepted: The only authority acceptable in Iraq is the UN, opined the paper.