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Europe

European Press Review: Papers Fear Civil War in Iraq

If violence in Iraq continues to spiral out of control, a number of European newspapers warned in strongly worded editorials Monday, the threat of civil war could be imminent.

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Workers asses the damage at the destroyed UN complex in Baghdad.

"Only an international force can prevent a civil war in Iraq," Britain’s Independent opined in its lead editorial. The terrorist bombings in Najaf appeared to have two aims: The first was to deter other U.N. members from joining the U.S.-led administration of Iraq. The second was to raise tensions between Shia and Sunni Iraqis. The Independent’s editors warned that might push the country towards a civil war that would suck the U.S., which is already overextended, deeper in. The worst thing U.N. member countries that opposed the war could do would be to say to George W Bush: ‘It was your war, you sort out the consequences.’ All U.N. members have a duty to help resist those forces trying to drag the U.S. into an Iraqi civil war, the Independent concluded.

The Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant wrote: "Daily attacks on American soldiers, sabotage of oil pipelines and three car bomb explosions in a row that killed more than 150 people. If the Americans don’t reestablish law and order, a civil war may be imminent." The paper also drew a parallel to the current situation with Lebanon, circa 1975, prior to the start of that country’s 15-year civil war.

Meanwhile, the editors of Russia’s Kommersant opined that the willingness of America to cooperate with other nations -- at least on the issue of Iraq – appears to be rising. But the paper warned that in order for these countries to take part, they first want reassurance that they will have a say. The paper also offered sage advice to Washington: "If the U.S. wants to share its moral responsibility, it also has to share its power."

Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that pressure is building to deploy more foreign troops in Iraq, as the security situation in Iraq gets further out of hand. But the paper warned there isn’t much time left, as some people are interested in seeing the country fall into chaos, taking America with it. The paper’s editors concluded that the prospects "aren’t looking good."

In Switzerland, the Tages-Anzeiger wrote that the Iraqi people didn’t care whether the series of attacks was committed by Saddam Hussein’s loyalists or al Qaeda. To them, all that matters is that they are facing an unprecedented kind of violence. The situation is compounded by a surge in violent crimes in the country ranging from kidnapping to murder. The tense situation has been partially eased by troops from Poland, Mongolia and Nicaragua, the paper noted, "but these small groups won’t solve it." Washington’s tendency to ignore warnings has proven to be both "fatal and costly," the paper concluded.