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German Press Review: Anything But an Independence Party

The editorial pages of Germany's newspapers on Tuesday opined on the unexpected early handover of power in Iraq. The consensus: This is not a success story.

The coalition forces were one step ahead of the insurgents declared Berlin's Die Welt. "Whoever now throws bombs does so officially against the Iraqi people," wrote the paper. With support from the international community in the form of NATO, Iraq has a real chance. "Yet", warned Die Welt, "the interim government has to do what the coalition forces have from the start failed to accomplish, and that is to also integrate the Sunni clerics and the moderate Baathists."

Another paper from the country's capital, the Berliner Zeitung, wrote that the Americans whose Iraq policy has so far been clumsy were smarter this time and their 'timing' was a success. By adjourning the NATO conference to the end of June due to a clash with a personal appointment of President Bush is a clear attempt at getting the defense alliance to take on more responsibility in Iraq. Yet this is no great success for Washington argued the paper, "Bush has met one deadline and kept one election promise – nothing more."

Munich's TZ noted that "this was anything but a noisy independence party – there were no flags flown, there was no cheering on the streets, the handover ceremony took place without the presence of the local population and under the protection of the hated U.S. tanks." Therefore it's "excessive" to call this day historic argued the paper. "The new government has no legitimacy and the political figures operating at the end of the long, U.S.-held leash have little chance of winning back the trust of the population. The Iraqis want security, jobs and the U.S. occupying forces to disappear – things that the new Prime Minister Allawi cannot provide.

According to the Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein Zeitung from Essen the surprise handover worked, but nothing could have been more of an indication that instability rules over Iraq. The departure of U.S. civilian administrator Paul Bremer came across as an escape noted the daily. The dilemma is great it wrote, and even with NATO or UN support the terror will continue as long as American soldiers remain in Iraq.

The Frankfurter Rundschau opined that Iraq's problems could only be solved by the Iraqis themselves "But for that they need complete sovereignty," the paper added, "and not just on paper but in everyday life." The paper warned that if the U.S., Great Britain and their allies stay on as de-facto occupiers, then all hope for peace will quickly disappear. A division of labor between a government that rules over the political processes and a military that operates with its own agenda will hinder any peaceful development of the country.

The question above all else, began an editorial in the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, "is whether the Iraqi's will trust this interim government?" But the paper's editors believed that could be possible now that Baghdad has regained its own identity. "Men and women who are courageous enough to govern their country until general elections even though they will be obvious targets for extremists," it wrote.

However the Hamburger Abendblatt maintained that the rushed handover of power to a hastily put together interim government which has little support among the Iraqi population is a declaration of bankruptcy by the Bush administration. According to the paper it's an acknowledgement that the occupying powers have not managed to control the terrorists. Additionally, the American's "have failed in their moral aim to win over the hearts of the Iraqi population," the paper concluded.

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