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Europe

German Press Review: Still a Long Way For Iraq

Editorialists in Germany turned their attention on Tuesday to the Iraqi Governing Council's agreement on an interim constitution, which cleared a major hurdle in the U.S. handing power back to Iraq at the end of June.

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel said a constitution after decades of dictatorship sounds like a historically-important event and like the setting up of a system of law and order. But it should not be forgotten that it is only an interim constitution which has been signed so ceremoniously in Baghdad, the paper wrote. And even that was only completed on the third attempt -- owing to deadly bomb attacks and differences of opinion between Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds. On the one hand, the daily said, that dampens enthusiasm, but on the other, it accentuates the significance of the event, for the interim constitution is now in force despite all obstacles. Postwar Iraq is now entering a new phase.

Was that the "big bang" that will usher in Iraqi democracy? asked Rostock's Ostsee-Zeitung. The paper commented that if the draft is approved in the scheduled referendum it will give the Iraqi federation a firm foundation. But the paper warned there is a long way to go yet, particularly in view of the threats from die-hard terrorists. Democracy is a slow process, the paper wrote, but at some time or other it gets under way. Baghdad may have seen the start on Monday.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung opined that the success of the interim constitution now depends partly on being able to stop the acts of violence by the militant opponents to a new Iraq. It went on to say that though the Americans apparently did not know what they were letting themselves in for in the post-Saddam era, at least their violently disputed war changed the situation enough to tackle the pluralistic experiment. It remains to be seen what will happen once the occupation force has left the country

Commenting on the accusations by an international human rights organization that U.S. forces in Afghanistan used excessive force during arrests of suspected Islamic militants, the Nürnberger Zeitung wrote that the brutal actions of American soldiers also harm the political objectives of their leadership. As in Iraq, the behavior of the troops in Afghanistan is supposed to be exemplary and to convince the local population of the merits of Western values. Heavy-handedness in their dealings with civilians is hardly going to achieve that aim, the paper concluded.

Commenting on International Women’s Day on Monday, a day when women celebrate their role in society on an equal footing with men, the Schwarzwälder Bote wrote that women from the emancipated 1968 generation seem to have less difficulty in asserting their rights as members of the majority population. But in the global fight for human rights, the March 8 has its significance. It is supposed to call for solidarity with those women around the world who are oppressed or even physically abused simply because of their sex.