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Europe

European Press Review: Too Little, Too Late

European papers on Tuesday commented on Iraq, the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the ever rising price of oil.

The United Nations resolution on Darfur passed at the end of last week provides no immediate threat to the Sudanese government, said Britain’s Daily Telegraph, but the wording of the decision has done enough to provoke an angry response. The paper continued by saying that Khartoum sees the Security Council vote as tantamount to a declaration of war and has called for a jihad of resistance.

The French newspaper Figaro also concerned itself with the situation in Sudan after Paris announced the deployment of some 200 soldiers along the border between Chad and Sudan. The papers said that the French troops formerly employed to contribute to “the safety and stability of the population” might be drawn into the role of fighting the Janjaweed militias.

The Figaro also concerned itself with Iraq and asked why the American and British secret services have not managed to identify those responsible for Sunday’s co-ordinated deadly attacks on five Christian churches around the country. The daily answered its own question by stating that the terrorists are hidden deep within the population of the cities and that the new Iraqi government would be in a much better position to uncover the ringleaders of the suicide attacks. Furthermore, the newspaper called on Christians all over the world to begin to help their fellow Christians in Iraq.

Britain’s Guardian lamented that as “British ministers go on vacation and the US press focuses on the elections, the news from Iraq has receded subtly from the headlines." It added that the news that the postponement of the planned national conference to select an interim assembly has also not been given the prominence that it deserves and concluded that “the invasion and overthrow of a ‘rogue state’ only leads to a fractured state,” adding that “for those doomed to live in it there has to be a better way.”

The Austrian newspaper Kurier focused on the announcement by Washington that there is palpable evidence of a renewed threat of a terrorist attack or attacks in the United States. The government has increased the terrorist alert to the second highest level for certain buildings and organizations. The paper, however, saw this as a cynical manoeuvre, a piece of electioneering designed to manipulate the voters. It said Washington is sending a message to the people: "In stormy seas don’t change the pilot."

The British Financial Times also picked up the US terror threats, observing that “however unclear the reliability of the basis of such warnings, the announcement of the threats created tremors in the markets where oil prices rose and stocks initially fell." While observing that the “global economic recovery, disturbingly, remains heavily dependent on US businesses and consumers keeping their nerve” it continued that there is “little reason to panic that higher security risks by themselves” are going to damage growth. Indeed it stated that “of all the fluctuations in perceived risks since Sept.11, the only one that appeared to have a substantial impact was the war in Iraq which resulted in businesses suspending investment temporarily." The daily concluded with an expression of uncharacteristic optimism: Whilst admitting that higher oil prices will have some impact on economic growth, it praised companies and individuals for showing reassuring signs of not panicking unduly.

The French business newspaper La Tribune was not so optimistic. It accused OPEC and the leading industrial countries known as G8 of doing far too little too late to control the price of oil. It says gloomily: “An oil price of $50 per barrel will definitely come, the only question is when.”