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Europe

German Press Review: Comparing Iraq and Afghanistan

German newspapers on Monday commented on the latest bomb attack in northern Iraq and the visit of German Defense Minister Peter Struck to Kunduz in Afghanistan.

Whoever was responsible for the double suicide attacks in the Iraq city of Erbil, wrote the Frankfurter Rundschau, those two bombs have highlighted the vulnerability of the Kurdish position in a future Iraq. The Kurds will now increase their efforts to press for a federal solution, thus making the U.S.-mediating role between the different groups ever more difficult. And a pending split in Iraq would be a political disaster at the end of a controversial intervention by the United States.

The Düsseldorf-based Handelsblatt doesn’t expect the situation in Iraq to improve any time soon. The United States will leave the country within the next half year, the U.S. civil administration will disappear and what remains are the soldiers. But the paper expects the violence to continue. This needs to be taken into account when discussing a leading role for NATO in Iraq, the paper commented.

The conservative daily Die Welt said the attacks in northern Iraq as a foretaste of what will happen if the United States leaves the country without having won the battle. The paper said that Iraq will then likely become embroiled in a civil war and also pointed to the parallels to an earlier surprise visit by deputy U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Like his visit in October, when he barely escaped a bomb attack on his hotel, Wolfowitz’ latest visit at the weekend was also intended as a show of strength, wrote Die Welt. Instead, the visit once more highlighted that terror still rules the country.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung compared Wolfowitz’ visit to Iraq to that of German Defense Minister Peter Struck’s trip to the Afghan city of Kunduz, claiming that of the two, Struck had the easier job. While the German Defense Minister found a relatively calm situation in Afghanistan, Wolfowitz found a Iraq in turmoil. Apparently, the victory over Saddam Hussein has done nothing to stem terrorism in Iraq, wrote the paper. The example of Afghanistan shows that the close co-operation between military and civil forces, between soldiers and development aid workers makes it possible to fight terrorism at its roots, wrote the Badische Neueste Nachrichten. That’s not only more effective but also more sustainable than covering the costs of violence and war afterwards. German soldiers who are currently in the Afghan city of Kunduz are therefore also contributing to Germany’s security, opined the paper.