German Press Review: Is the U.S. Pedaling Backwards in Iraq? | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 18.05.2004
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German Press Review: Is the U.S. Pedaling Backwards in Iraq?

A day after the head of the Iraqi Governing Council was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad on Monday, German editorials questioned whether the U.S. would still stick to its planned transfer of power.

For many papers, the death of Izzedin Salim raised yet more questions about the planned transfer of power on June 30 from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority to an Iraqi government. As the head of the interim Governing Council, Salim played a major role in this exit scenario, wrote the Südkurier in Constance, and concluded that this was the leader's downfall. "Now more than ever, U.S. President Bush has to reckon with the likelihood that his concept for the pacification of Iraq is not going to work out," the paper commented.

The Westdeutsche Zeitung in Düsseldorf regarded the situation in Iraq as "so hopeless that even the murder of the president of the Governing Council can hardly destabilize it any further." It added that the attack sent a message that the occupying powers can’t even protect the chosen members of the government effectively -- a fact that doesn’t make matters any easier for the Americans.

"The formal transfer of power in June will make little difference to the violence," according to the Stuttgarter Nachrichten. It pointed out that the "frontlines in this war don’t just run between the American occupiers and the Iraqi resistance; they cut right through Iraqi society." Since it became apparent that the United States wants to make a gradual retreat from Iraq, the guerrilla war against the occupiers has turned into an Iraqi civil war, the paper observed.

"Political stability in Iraq is not in sight, not under the American occupation, and not under a newly installed government either," maintained the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. The paper said Iraq has only one chance: "if the U.S. is prepared to provide troops as part of an international peacekeeping force, and at the same time withdraw from the political arena."

The Offenbach Post commented that the American and British occupiers have fallen into "the trap they built for themselves in Iraq." Their politicians are "back-pedaling, and deviating more and more from their initial plans for the country like democratization." Nonetheless, the paper continued, "they can’t capitulate before the terrorists, because if they do, Iraq will become a far greater threat to the world than it ever was under Saddam Hussein."