Handoff With a Whimper
By Jefferson Morley
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 29, 2004; 10:00 AM
There are two ways of looking at the United States' early transfer of political authority to the interim Iraqi government, according to the Australian.
Was it "a brilliant step to wrong-foot the insurgents seeking to disrupt the long-planned transfer of power set for tomorrow, or an ignominious acceptance that the security situation in a capital ruled by the US army for the past year remains out of control?" asked a correspondent for Rupert Murdoch's conservative flagship.
After a week in which more than 100 Iraqis were killed in insurgent attacks, up to a dozen foreigners kidnapped and one hostage beheaded, international online observers tend to favor the more downbeat view. Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's hint that he may soon declare martial law deflated expressions of hope. And former U.S. occupation chief L. Paul Bremer's swift dash to a waiting jet was widely noted.
As Channel NewsAsia , Web site of the popular Singapore-based television network, declared, "US-led occupation of Iraq ends early and with a whimper."
Al-Jazeera.net, Web site of the Arab cable news channel, quoted Mustaya Sayyid, an Iraqi professor of political science, as saying, "It's not really a genuine transfer, with this heavy American military and civilian presence and with a low requirement that American troops get authorisation before taking any military action."
In the run-up to the transfer, Iraqi commentators focused on the country's pervasive insecurity.
Al-Adala , a Shiite daily in Baghdad, noted that most of the targets in recent insurgent attacks were "innocent Iraqis, infra-structure, policemen, and so forth. . . . The aim of the so-called 'resistance' is not liberating Iraq."
The United States has not been aiming to liberate Iraq either, said Al-Mashriq, as translated by the Iraqi Press Monitor. The independent daily suggested that the U.S.-led occupation has wittingly opened up the country to foreign penetration.
Iraqis, the paper noted, "have never heard of the phenomena of kidnapping, drugs, or cutting off heads. According to Islamic teachings, to slaughter a bird you must use a sharp knife to prevent it suffering pain. So, we can imagine how man should be treated. The germs of these new phenomena came from outside Iraq."
The United States has enabled the infusion of foreign influence, the paper implied.
"He, who thinks keeping borders uncontrolled is unintentional, is mistaken," the paper said in a clear allusion to the coalition's inability to keep foreign fighters out of the country.
"Iraqis are the only victims of this. Foreigners will leave but these diseases do not easily heal. Sovereignty will be restored, but who will bring us back a safe, healthy society?"
According to Islam Online, "Lay people in Iraq received the power transfer with an unmistakable message: The US-led occupation troops, who will stay under the guise of a multinational keeping force, must leave."
"The first thing we will ask the interim government to do is to expedite the withdrawal of foreigners," lawyer Nizam Hammoudi Taai told the Qatar-based news site.
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