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Europe

German Press Review: Searching for Solutions in the Middle East

Wednesday’s editorials in the German press took a combined look at the G-8 summit in the United States and the new UN resolution on Iraq.

Iraq, the Middle East and the war on terror are the main points on the agenda at the G-8 summit being held on Sea Island off the coast of Georgia. U.S. President George W. Bush’s Greater Middle East Initiative (GMEI), is a plan that covers all three, wrote Die Welt. And, the paper added, it is a small victory for the ambitions of Washington’s neo-conservatives over the “realist” school of political thought, namely, that stability alone is not enough, as the example of Saudi Arabia shows. The war on terror is a replacement for a Saudi civil war, which that country’s rulers have successfully projected onto the world stage, the paper observed. The GMEI is an attempt to put an end to that and even Germany’s Green foreign minister is behind it, the paper noted. The road to European democracy was also hard and bloody, the paper emphasized.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung agreed and pointed out that, in Iraq’s case, it would take years to master the challenges that lay ahead. That means that Baghdad will need support from its neighbors, its creditors and the United Nations. A new UN resolution, therefore, is a welcome start, the paper said.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung was more skeptical and thought that the new UN resolution has a weak spot. The resolution dodges the most controversial issue, in the paper's opinion, and that is, who will have the final say on the use of troops. What will happen when the US wants to win back a city from local militias and the Iraqi government is opposed, the paper asked? What will happen, the paper mused, is that America will prove to be the sovereign - and that could lead to more unrest among the Iraqis.

The Nürnberger Zeitung disagreed and argued that the military aspects of the UN resolution would not be long-lasting. When sovereignty is returned, the Iraqi government will decide, not only what military action to take, but also whether foreign troops should be present on Iraqi soil.

Cologne’s Stadt Anzeiger tried to strike a balance. On the one hand, the paper wrote, an Iraq resolution will not solve all the problems and not bring peace over night. On the other hand, however, it forces the international community into a position of responsibility to give Iraq an acceptable future.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung commented that Bush and his cohorts have recognized that they cannot get out of the Iraq mess unscathed by going it alone. The Europeans, for their part, have recognized that it is of no benefit to them to be gloating over Washington’s predicament. Agreeing to a common strategy for Iraq, however, serves Western cohesion, the paper noted, and it also gives Iraq a perspective, on the basis of international accords, to limit its foreign occupation and prepare for a return to sovereignty.

Building on that assessment, the Financial Times Deutschland was strictly realistic and noted that the interim government in Baghdad has no chance of survival without US troops at its side. Iraq will only be truly independent, the paper wrote, when it is capable of having its own effective security forces that can stand up to the terror and rebellions in the country. Without the Americans, Iraq cannot be stabilized, the paper concluded.