European Press Review: No More Than A Symbolic Victory in Iraq? | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 24.07.2003
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European Press Review: No More Than A Symbolic Victory in Iraq?

Two days after the announcement of the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay, some European papers on Thursday questioned whether the news is really the big step forward the United States believes it to be.


An undated photo of Saddam Hussein with his sons believed dead, Uday, left, and Qusay.

Le Figaro in France called the shooting of Uday and Qusay Hussein balm for the souls of American GIs in Iraq, as well as for the American public. Austria’s Der Standard, on the other hand, wrote that ordinary Iraqis would only be able to breathe freely when the old regime was eradicated, or at least behind bars.

It was certainly the first big success in the hunt for the survivors in Saddam’s regime, said Germany’s Express in Cologne. But the paper pointed out that the people conducting attacks against coalition troops were not only Saddam loyalists. They were an explosive mixture of fanatics and religious groups, as well as ordinary people who had no perspective and no hope in their newly-liberated country, and who felt they were being treated like American subjects, Express said. Nothing would change, the paper commented, as long as Washington continued to substitute guns and tanks for policy.

Many papers believed that in the long term, the deaths of the two men would prove little more than a symbolic victory. If the United States hoped to bring peace to Iraq, it would have to do more than complete its childish card game of the 55 most-wanted Baathists, wrote Austria’s Die Presse. Iraqis would only start to believe in a better future when they started to see concrete improvements in their daily lives, it said.

Some papers suggested that the anti-American resistance movement in Iraq might well be able to turn the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein to its advantage. The United States had provided the resistance with its first heroes and martyrs, wrote Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza. Uday and Qusay died gun-in-hand, outnumbered by their enemies, it commented, adding that the pictures of their corpses would become icons.

The Berner Zeitung in Switzerland dismissed the idea that these two brutal men could achieve mythical martyr status. But it warned that their father was a different matter. Many Iraqis have a lot of respect for Saddam, it wrote, not least because he stood up to the United States under pressure. If the United States was successful in killing him, the paper said, this would not necessarily be a success in gaining the sympathy of the Iraqi people.

Italy’s La Republica commented that U.S. President George W. Bush’s mini-victory speech in the White House Rose Garden was another illustration of what he had shown repeatedly since the attacks of September 11th. Behind all the talk of preventative war, strategy and politics, the paper wrote, Bush saw this long war as a very personal duel between himself and the enemies of America.