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Europe

European Press Review: Problems in Iraq

European newspapers on Monday commented on the enormous problems facing U.S. and British forces in Iraq, made even more difficult by the recent sabotaging of an oil pipeline to Turkey and a water main in Baghdad.

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An Iraqi man cools off in a flooded underpass in Baghdad after an explosion blew a gaping hole in a water main.

Britain’s The Independent wrote the events of this past weekend should have convinced even the most inveterate optimist that the reconstruction of Iraq will take much longer and cost much more than the United States and Britain had budgeted. More than three and a half months after U.S. President Bush announced the end of major combat operations, the occupying powers face the same conundrum that they faced at the start. Iraqis will not

believe in the benevolence of the occupiers unless the Americans and British can restore basic services.

The Rome-based Il Messaggero said it fears that in the medium term Iraq could turn into another Lebanon. The consequences of such a development would be dire, it opined, and not only for the peace process in the Middle East, but also for the stability of just those regimes in the region who really wanted to allow themselves to be infected by the virus of democracy.

After a Danish soldier serving in the international stabilization force in Iraq was killed in a clash overnight near the southern city of Basra, Germany’s Frankfurter Rundschau said it is just one more death in Iraq, but the first of a Dane. The soldier was in the country because Denmark‘s right-wing Liberal Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen likes to be around when world politics is in the making. Denmark’s contribution to the war effort in Iraq, the daily said, was seen as largely symbolic until it sent 400 soldiers to Basra in the summer. Now one of them is dead, so the deployment no longer has anything symbolic about it.

After the death at the weekend of Uganda’s former dictator Idi Amin in his Saudi Arabian exile, the Kommersant in Moscow wrote: History shows that the success of a democratic transformation depends on the extent to which a country comes to terms with its past. And that includes a public and fair trial of those who were responsible for that past.

Britain’s The Guardian recalled that for Tanzania’s president, Julius Nyerere, Amin was “a murderer, a liar and a savage.” The paper said that in the perspective of history, he will go down as one who damaged the cause of African nationalism. His rule of Uganda became a synonym of barbarity.

Commenting on France’s threat to block the lifting of sanctions against Libya following agreement on a deal for the families of the victims of the 1988 airliner bombing over Lockerbie, the French conservative daily Le Figaro said France is right to consider using its UN Security Council veto if the families of the 170 people who died in another aircraft bombing – a French DC10 that exploded over the Sahara in 1989 are not treated in the same way. Libya has already paid 30 million euros in compensation for the French airliner bombing and accepted responsibility in what Paris and Tripoli last year termed “a definitive settlement” of the matter.