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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

December 15, 2003

December 15, 2003





**  Saddam's capture is a "political and psychological triumph" for the U.S. and coalition.

**  Optimists view the arrest as a turning point for Iraq and an opportunity for reconciliation.

**  Critics say nabbing Saddam doesn't solve Iraqi crisis, rather it could "inflame" the resistance.

**  Global media call for justice not revenge; most want Saddam to be tried in an Iraqi court.




Saddam's arrest is a 'coup' for the U.S., major 'morale booster' for coalition forces--  In the immediate wake of Saddam's arrest, writers worldwide portrayed it as a political and "psychological" win for the U.S.  From Europe to the Muslim world, writers expressed relief that "a monster has been caught" and that Saddam's "psychological grip" on the Iraqi people had been broken.  Capturing the positive mood, Kosovo's mass circulation Bota Sot declared: "Saddam's capture by the American military ended once and forever the nightmare of the Iraqi people."  Even anti-war outlets conceded his capture was a "blow for good."  Canada's liberal Toronto Star commended the U.S. for taking Saddam alive, noting the "Americans have wisely ensured that a mass murderer does not become a martyr."  Others saw the arrest as a major boost for Bush, suggesting "he could not have dreamed for a better Christmas present."


U.S. must take advantage of a 'new beginning,' time for reconciliation--  Positive editorials asserted that Saddam's arrest offers an opportunity for the U.S. to "turn the mood around" and "to end the indecent bickering" over Iraq.  Underscoring the U.S.' "great chance" to win the support of the Iraqis, Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung explained the arrest "united the U.S., its allies, the opponents of the war and mainly the downtrodden Iraqi people."  Arab writers concurred that this was "a turning point and an opportunity to start afresh."  While UAE dailies urged it was time to move ahead with "rebuilding Iraq based on the free will of the Iraqi people," Saudi Arabia's moderate Al Bilad advocated "a real beginning for the return of Iraq to its people" and "the departure of foreign troops forever."


It 'remains to be seen' whether Iraq situation will improve, may get worse--  Skeptics emphasized that Saddam's arrest did not mean the end of the conflict or change the "grim reality" facing Iraqis.  They stressed that the war is "still going on" and "worse still," according to a Russian daily, "it is gathering steam."  Taking note of the "Middle East paradox," writers in Israel as well as in the Arab world worried that not only will his "capture not stop terror, it is even liable to spur it."  "Without a doubt," asserted the PA's independent Al-Quds, capturing Saddam in such a "humiliating and shameful way will inflame the Iraqi resistance."


Saddam should be 'tried by those he tyrannized,' but now is not time for 'revenge'--

Most writers agreed it would be important that Saddam be tried by the Iraqis themselves, in a "real court" but "according to international law."  Saddam's trial will be "cathartic" for Iraq, asserted Britain's conservative Times.  The Netherlands centrist Algemeen Dagblat instead countered that a fair judicial process is "unthinkable as long as there is no Iraqi government with a self-obtained mandate."  Chinese and Indian dailies warned that "kangaroo court justice" could make a martyr of Saddam.  Muslim writers demanded "law and justice" not "revenge."


EDITOR:  Irene Marr

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This report is based on 88 editorials from 39 countries, December 14-15.




BRITAIN:  "The Humiliation Of A Bloody Tyrant"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (12/15):  "The video footage aired yesterday was worth so much more than the toppling of any statue....  That video has broken the psychological grip [Saddam] held on Iraq, beginning a process of political exorcism.  It is a badly needed triumph for the U.S.-led occupation authority, certainly, but above all it is a huge boost for Iraqis, a cultured and wealthy people the Saddam regime brutalized and reduced to penury....  It follows that the occupation authorities should use the capture of Mr. Hussein as an opportunity to embrace the alienated Sunni community and assure them of their rights....  The capture of the tyrant can only help, by making Iraqis believe they can at last start believe in a future."




The conservative Times commented (12/15):  "Rarely do the monsters of history have to account for their crimes....  As long as he remained at large, his familiar voice coming back on clandestine tapes from the political grave to taunt and haunt his people, Iraq could not recover....  His capture was therefore as dramatic as it was vital....  The way in which the farmhouse was pinpointed and isolated and the quarry finally unearthed in the 'spider hole' beneath the ground was a textbook example of a military operation properly planned and skillfully executed....  Beyond this necessary proof of his capture, the Americans would be wise to say and show as little as possible now of their prisoner....  The more Saddam is treated with the dignity of common humanity, the more pointed will be the contrast with the way he tortured and humiliated prisoners during his rule.  Iraqis will be able to see for themselves that the aim of the war in the spring was neither to seek domination nor exact revenge but to free them of the tyranny of one man.  That man must now be tried by those he tyrannized....  Saddam's trial will be cathartic for Iraq.  It will, at last, define the parameters of his misrule....  The question that must now preoccupy world capitals is whether Saddam's arrest will speed up Iraq's recovery."


"Saddam: We Got him"


An editorial in the right-of-center Sun held (12/15):  "Mr. Blair has played a key role in the capture of Saddam.  He had the courage to stand by President Bush during the war itself and in the bloody aftermath.  He never wavered for a moment, despite relentless sniping from the Labour Left....  All the coalition troops involved in Saturday night's brilliant operation deserve our thanks.  So too do the British security forces who helped track the tyrant to his hole....  Nevertheless, a blow for freedom has been struck.  A monster has been caught.  And that is something worth celebrating."


"Now Let The Iraqis Rule Themselves"


An editorial in the center-left Daily Mirror stressed (12/15):  "Even those who, like the Mirror, believe it was wrong to go to war in Iraq can agree.  His capture is a blow for good.  But getting Saddam does not suddenly make it right to have invaded and launched a war against international law at the cost of thousands of lives....  There is still no evidence that he had any WMD and it is hardly likely that he will now miraculously produce them, letting George Bush and Tony Blair off the hook....  All those involved deserve the highest praise.  But the capture of Saddam is no more the end of the conflict than the fall of his statue was....  There are bound to be problems over what happens to him now.  Tony Blair is right to want him to face trial in Iraq....   But the greatest day will be when the Iraqi people can rule themselves. That is when true peace and security will at last come to that long-troubled land.  And Saddam's legacy will finally be over."


"Out Of The Shadows"


An editorial in the left-of-center Guardian claimed (12/15):  "Like his sons, Iraq's deposed dictator appears to have been betrayed by an informer or informers.  But unlike Uday and Qusay, who resisted to the death...there was no fight left in Saddam....  It seems, when the moment of reckoning finally arrived, that he was all but deserted and alone....   [A]s a force within Iraq, his reign ended yesterday; his terror has been terminated.  Iraq's future will happen without him.  Here was a more truly liberating, emancipating moment than the bloodily chaotic fall of Baghdad to American arms last spring....  Saddam, happily, now has no say over Iraq's future.  But he has an awful lot to say about its past.  It is vital that the world hear his full, unexpurgated testimony.  Saddam was a horror of our age.  But the guilt for his deeds is not entirely his alone."


FRANCE:  "President Bush's Good Fortune"


Michel Schifres remarked in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/15):  "Even if Saddam's capture was in the cards, considering the forces deployed by the U.S., the symbolism of his capture emphasizes three basic truths:  the Iraqi dictatorship is definitely part of the past; the armed supporters of the tyrant have lost their main reason for being; Iraq's citizens can psychologically feel liberated....  To the eyes of the world this capture illustrates even more America's energy and its president's good fortune....  After a period of uncertainty, the year-end is bringing President Bush an almost certain reelection.  At the same time he must feel vindicated about the appropriateness of the Iraqi campaign and more broadly about America's intervention in world affairs.  This is nothing to rejoice about.  While this capture gives America newfound authority, it leaves many things unresolved in Iraq.  And so we wonder whether this capture represents a chance that Washington will seize.  The choice is clear.  Either the Americans demonstrate their real desire to reinstate Iraqi sovereignty, or, hiding behind democratic smokescreens, they will serve only their interests.  Since they are the masters of the world, the future will tell whether they will lead the world or dig their own graves.  Winning the future is something to be determined today."




Patrick Sabatier judged in left-of-center Liberation (12/15):  "The question of Saddam has been resolved, but not the question of Iraq....  George Bush could not have dreamed of a better Christmas present....  Even if Saddam's role in the attacks against the Coalition remains uncertain, his capture is sure to discourage some of the resistance groups....  But the Iraqis' opposition to a prolonged and humiliating occupation remains....  Saddam's capture gives Bush a new opportunity to get out of the quagmire.  He can seize this opportunity to speed up the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, internationalize the transition and the country's reconstruction by handing them over to the UN.  He must guarantee that Saddam's trial will be handled by a real court, an Iraqi court, but according to international law.  President Bush did not make the mistake of clamoring premature victory.  He must not conclude that his policy is now validated and let vengeance take over.  The proper outcome of the Iraqi crisis is the emergence of a regime founded on the rule of law, more democratic and free than Saddam Hussein's."


GERMANY:  "Tracked Down"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger had this to say in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (12/15):  "Since the specter of old times can no longer play a ravaging role, reconciliation can now begin.  Of course, this process is linked to the hope that the remnants of the former regime, whose terrorists attacks have raised cost of the occupation, will no longer have the will and the resources for continuous resistance now that their leader has been captured....  It is a consequence of the capture that it will now be easier for President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to reject their critics, but this is of secondary importance.  We are now anxious to see how the skeptical and critical Arab neighbors will react to the fact that the former dictator from Baghdad can no longer be considered a myth.  They will have to adjust to the new realities.  We are also keen on finding out what Saddam has to day, if he says anything at all and if his published.  Why did he not give his military the order to confront the invading forces?  What role did WMD play?  Do they still exist?...  What will be read in future history books on the Iraq conflict will depend on these answers.  The fact that the ousted [tyrant] is no longer at large will be seen as a signal by those who want to rebuild Iraq, showing that the renewal of the country and the region is possible."


"Those Who Deserve Sympathy"


Christoph von Marschall noted in centrist Der Tagesspiegel (12/15):  "Great moments sometimes happen in a very sobering way:  Saddam Hussein captured.  America and the majority of Iraqis have waited for this relieving message for months.  The cheers are understandable but, nevertheless, they are also a bit pale.  When we see Saddam on TV as an old and worn man with tousled hair, he creates an unreal astonishment.  This is supposed to be the head of the resistance movement who made the United States appear helpless and weak for more than six months?...  For his supporters it no longer makes sense to continue fighting now, and many Iraqis need no longer be afraid; they can now openly support the building of a new Iraq....  The strike against Saddam gives the U.S. government a chance to turn the mood around.  Saddam should be put on trial in Iraq, and the representatives of his people should judge him, in the name of the innumerable victims.  They, above all, are the ones who should call him to account."


"Saddam's End"


Peter Muench opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (12/15):"Saddam's arrest is an enormously important success for President Bush on two fronts: in Iraq and at home, but it was even more: a reason for delight that can finally be shared with the whole world that was divided by the Iraq war.  This arrest unites the United States, its allies, the  opponents of the war, and mainly the downtrodden Iraqi people....  But we cannot expect a quick turn to the better in Iraq now.  The guerrilla attacks against the occupying forces will not end  overnight...but there is no doubt that the fighting will now be reduced.  Saddam's supporters have lost their idol and the Djihadis are not really rooted in the country.  This is why the Americans now have a great chance.  If they are serious about their view that this is a 'historic day,' then it is  now up to them to shape history....  This chance for the Americans is to win the support of the Iraqis...and a reconciliation process must be initiated between occupiers and the Iraqi people, between the diverging forces among the Iraqis, including the Sunnis, and also between the United States and the opponents of this war.  Only if the U.S. government realizes that it must take advantage of this second chance for the reconciliation process, will this arrest be more than an act of satisfaction."


"Arrest Is Pleasing But Will Not Resolve All Problems"


Washington correspondent Tom Buhrow commented on ARD-TV's (national channel one) late evening newscast Tagesthemen (12/14): "The arrest is really pleasing, for this success will not resolve all problems, but it will open a number of chances that should not remain unused.  The United States now has the chance of demonstrating moral greatness.  America can now show the rest of the world that it believes inthe rule of law even in international relations -- and not only in areas where the laws has no chance like in Guantánamo.  But the western world as a whole now also has the chance to leave the dispute and the know-it-better behavior behind and show its commitment to common values and tasks.  The indecent bickering about who should get which contracts in Iraq should nowcome to an end.  President Bush should stop punishing skeptical allies like France and Germany, and we should stop describing problems and instead cooperate in finding solutions.  Every one knows which governments were in favor and opposed to the war, but this will not bring us any further.  When Bush's special envoy Baker arrives in Europe on Monday and negotiates the cancellation of Iraq's debt, Germany should raise one question in particular:  How can we help?"


ITALY:  "After The Triumph"


Sergio Romano opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/15): "Saddam Hussein, in the hands of the United States is a political and psychological triumph. The operation gives new confidence to the troops and compensates for the many frustrations they have had to bear. U.S. forces demonstrated extraordinary skill.... If the Iraqi leader would have...swallowed a capsule of poison, his body would have become...the symbol of the resistance....  The U.S. will have a better chance at reconstructing the country....  It's Bush and Blair's first success since the end of the invasion. The attacks, the downed helicopters, the sabotage of oil wells and missiles against the hotels and coalition headquarters in Baghdad...are of secondary are the missing weapons of mass destruction, which were the leaders' principal justification for the war. For Bush, while his adversaries are getting ready for the presidential election, the capture is an extra card, perhaps the decisive one. For Blair it's the end of a nightmare....  It remains to be seen if his capture will mark a final military victory....  When the U.S. investigated the Iraqi resistance, it came up against a constellation of heterogeneous forces.... If the leader is Saddam, the movement can consider itself decapitated. I hope the Americans will considerhim a belligerent man, rather than a terrorist and that they will give up the idea, if they ever had it, to imprison him in Guantanamo. And I hope that his trial will be conducted in an Iraqi tribunal. For his fellow countrymen, a verdict issued at home will always be more fair than a foreign one."


"The American Lesson For An Increasingly Inconsistent Europe"


Ernesto Galli della Loggia commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/15): "The capture of Saddam definitely dismisses one of the fables of European public opinion: the fable of secrets and agreements between the U.S. and Saddam to guarantee the latter's impunity, in the wake of the rumors regarding a weapons-oil arrangement that dates back years....  Europe

reveals its inconsistency with these fables as well.... One of the lessons to be learned from Saddam's capture is this one: before the U.S.' clear objectives, their ability to pursue them on the world scene, before their commitment, which is also a moral one, to respond to terrorism, what did Europe propose, what did it do? Nothing; nothing serious and real. The French-German axis...was only capable of raising the flag of disassociation and of fake irenical ethics which is a cover for its substantial moral and political emptiness."


"Baghdad's Turning Point"


Stefano Silvestri noted in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (12/15): "Now this victory must be handled as best as possible, especially to reinforce the possibility of pacification in Iraq,which obligatorily passes through the provisional government's growing role and authority.... In other words, Saddam's capture must also signal the rapid approach of the end of an occupying regime if we want to avoid the strengthening of a new armed opposition, which unlike the present one still centered around the figure of the old dictator, could find new political reference points and give new life to the guerrillas. This is why it is probably important that Saddam be tried by the Iraqis themselves, perhaps with the help of an international criminal court, which should act not inthe name of the winners, but in the name of the dictator's innumerous Iraqi victims."


"Pacification Or All Against All"


Marco Guidi opined in Rome's center-left  Il Messaggero (12/15): "President George W. Bush said it best:  'the capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq.' Saddam's capture is undoubtedly very important, however it will  certainly not mark the end to terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere.... Now Saddam awaits his trial and it will be interesting to learn who will try him and  where.... Saddam will have a lot to say, and [he will say] some embarrassing things for many countries, and foremost for the U.S., who is now an  enemy. It will be interesting to learn whether the trial will be public and if the defendant will be allowed to speak freely on everything."


RUSSIA:  "Saddam Nabbed.  War Goes On"


Reformist Izvestiya commented (12/15):  "It is the United States' biggest success since early April, when its troops, practically unopposed, captured Baghdad and overthrew Saddam's regime....  With the Saddam arrest, just as with his sons' deaths, nothing is going to change.  The war is going on.  Worse still, it is gathering steam.  Saddam neither organized nor guided the resistance.  Other people, more dangerous, fanatical, irreconcilable, and effective, did.  The corrupt dictator, who surrendered his country to the U.S.-British coalition virtually without a battle, has long ceased to be a symbol of the 'liberation struggle,' replaced by other idols, including Osama bin Laden and other sponsors, international Islamic groups.  Secular dictator Saddam was a weak, almost perfect, opponent.  First, he clung on to power too much.  After losing power, he clung on to life.  The Iraqi Rais has ended up as gracelessly as he ruled."


"Saddam May Save Bush"


Yulia Petrovskaya held in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (12/15):  "Saddam must push up Bush's popularity rating.  But this will only happen if, with the 'ringleader' caught, the Iraqi resistance really subsides.  Very many observers doubt that.  To the average American, PR visits and the arrest of key figures may well be a yardstick of the success of the most risky U.S. operation in the post-Vietnam era.  But caskets with the dead bodies of soldiers arriving in America and rows involving Iraq reconstruction contracts affect the popularity ratings of the leader of the main Western democracy even more."


AUSTRIA:  "Now The Triumph, Soon The Retreat"


Chief editor Andreas Unterberger wrote in centrist daily Die Presse (12/15):  “After so many humiliations, this is finally success.  For the Americans, the arrest of Saddam Hussein is a reason for cheering.  Not only the Americans, but also the majority of Iraqis, and hopefully also of Europeans, are greatly relieved.  The stubborn and bloody resistance against the new power in the country was supported neither by Shi’ites nor by Kurds, but only by what remained of Saddam’s clan in the Sunnite triangle.  Future generations will debate on whether overthrowing a dictator who killed hundreds of thousands, deprived millions of their rights and enslaved just as many, who is responsible for the only two wars of conquest in recent decades, by a foreign power is justified, or whether the Americans and the British are guilty of a crime in the eyes of history....  Much more important for the future of Iraq--and of America, too--is the question of how soon the liberators/conquerors/occupiers will be able to organize a speedy, yet organized withdrawal, and will hand over the power in the country to at least more or less respectable structures.  The high after the capture of Saddam does in fact present the U.S. with the chance of a honorable retreat.”


"The Evil Spirit Has Been Exorcized"


Deputy chief editor Viktor Hermann wrote in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (12/15):  “Saddam Hussein must be put on trial.  For this purpose, a special tribunal has already been set up in Baghdad, which is to decide on the fate of the most important heads of the old terror regime. This tribunal now has the chance not only to question and sentence his accomplices, but to judge Saddam Hussein himself, the chief offender, one of the worst criminals the world has seen since World War II.  The way Baghdad is going to conduct the proceedings against the old power league will be a good indicator of whether Iraq will succeed in making the jump to a modern democracy.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Warning To Other Dictators"


Bretislav Turecek noted in center-left Pravo (12/15):  "It was hard to believe that the decrepit old man shown on TV could be Saddam Hussein, the man who incited two wars....  All those who contested the sincere happiness of  ordinary Iraqis over the toppling of the regime were proven wrong by media images of people throughout Iraq rejoicing over the capture of the dictator....  Saddam’s arrest has fundamental importance not only for the coalition soldiers and the officials decimated by guerrilla and terrorist attacks, but especially for the future of Iraq....  The opponents of the current status quo help will now have a much harder time, since they will no longer have the fear of Iraqis [that the old regime will be installed] as ally.  The arrest has also an international perspective. The leader of the rogue Iraqi regime will have to account for his activities in front of either the American justice or the newly established Iraqi tribunal....  It can safely be said that the American policy has, notwithstanding the notorious comments of anti-Americans, brighter lining."


FINLAND:  "Saddam's Capture Great Victory For Iraq, Too"


Finland's leading daily, centrist Helsingin Sanomat editorialized (12/15):  "The ability of the former Iraqi dictator to avoid capture...added to the general impression of an incomplete military victory.  Among the Iraqis, who had suffered from the reign of terror, this maintained fear of the old system possibly returning after the departure of the occupying powers.  Therefore, the capture of Saddam Hussein was a great political and psychological victory for both Washington and all those Iraqis who want stable democratic order for their country.  Sooner or later, Saddam Hussein will have to be brought to justice, but he must not be allowed to become the martyr of any important group of Iraqis.  The court which handles his case has to be as prestigious as possible.  A hasty sentence could politically be as harmful as a drawn-out process, which would provide the dictator a chance of holding up his judges to ridicule.  The most likely alternative is an Iraqi court.  Another option would be a separate international  tribunal.  Both have their disadvantages.  These are difficult problems and will be debated bitterly, but compared to the main issue they weigh little.  Saddam Hussein's long and cruel political history has come to its end.  Nearly all other stumbling stones do still exist.  The problems of the transfer of power and the division of power between the different demographic groups remain unchanged.  Democracy and political stability are still frighteningly distant."


"Saddam's Capture Gives An Opportunity For A New Start"


Left-of-center Hufvudstadsbladet observed (12/15):  "Initial reactions from countries that have been critical of the war in Iraq point to a new opening.  Both France and Germany congratulated the United States.  The French and German leaders said that the arrest provides a new opportunity to stabilize Iraq through international efforts and to give Iraqis the control of their country.  The arrest of Saddam Hussein was an important victory for President  Bush.  He has now rallied important support for his election campaign but also gained an opportunity to contribute to the normalization of  relations between western democracies--not a day too early."


IRELAND:  "The Capture Of Saddam Hussein"


A column in the center-left Irish Times editorialized (12/15):  "The capture of Saddam Hussein by U.S. troops near Tikrit this weekend is undoubtedly an historic event in Iraq and has been widely and justifiably welcomed there and through out the world....  But it remains to be seen whether his capture marks a decisive turning point in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq, bring it security, quell the insurgency and return sovereignty to the people....  There is considerable evidence that the resistance is much more broad-based, going beyond Saddam loyalists and Islamist movements....  Much will depend on how the fledgling Iraqi legal authorities and the governing council handle the forthcoming trial and respond to the new political circumstances.  They say a trial is to be public and conducted according to internationally accepted norms....  Iraqis are delighted to see him in custody, but realize that, in itself, this will not solve the problems they face.  There is a growing demand that their sovereignty be restored, which must be considered alongside the U.S. commitment to transfer control decisively back to Iraqi authorities by the end of June next year....  The governing council has been ineffective, partly because the occupation authorities have been reluctant to trust it with extra powers.  The resistance looks increasingly like a struggle for control of Iraq between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish forces in anticipation of U.S. departure.  Iraq will not be stabilized unless there is a major internationalization of its political and military control through the United Nations, which would allow funds to flow for its redevelopment."


"Spectre Of Saddam Out To Rest"


An editorial in the left-of-center Irish Examiner stated (12/15):  "The decision that now remains, is what, precisely, is the most appropriate forum in which he should be arraigned....  A tribunal in Iraq, adhering to international standards and with international observers, would appear to be the most appropriate forum in which the people of Iraq should see justice administered.  It is imperative that his judgment day is not too long postponed....  The people of Iraq can now believe they have ultimately been released from the reign of terror he presided over for almost 35 years.  The resistance which the U.S.-led coalition has experienced since the invasion will not diminish with Saddam Hussein's incarceration, because opposition to their occupation was, and is, beyond his sphere of support and influence.  It is crucial the governance of this tormented country is returned to the people once it is practically possible, because ultimately they must decide there own destiny.  Before that juncture the infrastructure must be put in place to allow them to take back a governable country."


KOSOVO:  "George W. Bush And The U.S.A. Have Liberated Iraq For The Second Time"


Elida Bucpapaj, a columnist of the pro-LDK, mass circulation Bota Sot wrote (12/15):  “And so the capture of Saddam ends once and forever the myth of a tyrant, who while hiding, continued to frighten Iraqis and to inspire chaos and insecurity in Iraq....  Saddam’s capture by the American military forces is another total victory of George W. Bush that left the critics of the U.S. President short-winded;  all those who speculated with the ghosts of Saddam and Bin Laden.  Saddam’s capture too left short-winded those ghosts of the Old Europe that through their silence and boycott have given support to the ex-tyrant.  Now that U.S.A. has captured Saddam, the former dictator will not spare any of those ghosts, whether they are in Europe or elsewhere....  Saddam’s capture by the American military ends once and forever the nightmare of Iraqi people.  Therefore, with the capture of the former dictator Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush and the U.S.A. military have liberated Iraq for the second time.”


"Americans Arrested Saddam In A Hole"


The pro-PDK Epoka e Re noted (12/15):  “This top action has echoed across the world and made very happy the leader and the architect of the removal of dictatorships of the world:  President Bush, even more for the fact that this action came in a day sensitive for his unstable popularity and was carried out without firing a single bullet....  The detention of Saddam Hussein is a big boost to the morale of the American troops in Iraq who are facing the daily attacks of Iraqi guerrilla, some of which are believed to have been directed by the former Iraqi President from the hole he was found hiding in....  There are many holes in Iraq.  Saddam was staying in one of them until yesterday.  Saddam was a President, now he is just a prisoner awaiting to face the justice of the people, in another hole (prison cell)....  Rooms of torture and Saddam’s secret police now belong to the past of Iraqis.”


NETHERLANDS:  "Hope For Iraq"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant editorialized (12/15):  “By capturing Saddam Hussein the Americans have dealt a heavy blow....  Eight months after the fall of Saddam’s regime the fear for his return has also been removed....  Let’s hope that this also marks the end of the attacks and that security will be increased so that a real start can be made with the urgent task of improving the living conditions of the Iraqi people....  Bush was right not to look too triumphant because optimistic scenarios have failed to materialize before.  The people of Iraq were happy about the fall of Saddam’s regime in April but that did not mean that they were happy about the American presence, which made reconstruction in Iraq a lot more difficult than people like Rumsfeld had anticipated....  At the same time, pessimistic scenarios also not always come true in Iraq.  After the invasion in March, the anticipated urban guerrilla [warfare] in Baghdad did not occur.  And now Saddam turns out to be less elusive than thought.  Right now it’s important to hand over sovereignty to the Iraqi people as soon as possible.  And one of the first tasks for the Iraqis is to put Saddam on trial for the crimes he has committed.”


"Finally Captured"


Centrist Algemeen Dagblad in its editorial (12/15): “Bahgdad’s tyrant has been captured.… The big question right now is what role Saddam Hussein played in organizing resistance from his hiding places over the last months.  The answer to that question may determine developments in the near future…  The Americans are taking into account that it was not just Saddam loyalists who wanted to block the process of reconstruction by the attacks they carried out.  If that is the case, Saddam’s arrest could be no more than a footnote in the course of a multitude of events.…  The way in which the former dictator will be tried is very important to the re-establishment of the legal order in Iraq.  It seems logical that the trial will take place in Iraq.  However, it is important to realize that in these circumstances the country does not have the means to take legal actions against its former ruler.  A fair judicial process is unthinkable as long as there is no Iraqi government with a self-obtained mandate.  And so the arrest of Saddam Hussein will put an extra burden on the shoulders of those responsible for governing Iraq.  Even behind bars, Saddam remains a source of problems and so the euphoria felt over his arrest could turn out to be misplaced.”




Conservative De Telegraaf concluded in its editorial (12/15): “The arrest of Saddam Hussein is not just a victory for coalition troops: most of all it is a victory for the Iraqi people who can now move forward to a just society.…  It seems likely that the Iraqis will try Saddam Hussein in his own country.  This is the wisest thing to do.  It will surely silence those Iraqis that might object to foreign interference.  Furthermore, such a trial will give Iraq the opportunity to close the dark chapter of dictatorship once and for all.”


PORTUGAL:  "A Victory"


Respected center-left daily Diário de Notícias editorialized (12/15):  "The capture of Saddam doesn't represent the end of the battle for democracy.  The mission of the allied forced is far from being considered accomplished.  It will only be finished with success when the Iraqi people have peace and fully assume the sovereignty of the country....  With the capture of Saddam comes indisputably a historic turning point in Iraq, because a very powerful symbol who fed, or could have fed terrorist resistance movements, fell.  But, the apprehension of the dictator will not resolve all the problems, including the attacks against the coalition forces.  Many of these attacks are, as is known, organized from the outside, some of them attributable to Al-Queda.  Which signifies that, as new attacks being foreseeable,...will now be a test of the involvement, or not, of Saddam in the organization of recent attacks."


"After The Bloody Trinity"


Influential Catholic University international security studies scholar Prof. Miguel Monjardino, wrote in an op-ed for respected center-left daily Diário de Notícias (12/15):  "The Capture of Saddam Hussein and even the way in which it was carried out has enormous political implications for Iraqis, Washington and its allies....  Those who want to politically transform Iraq will begin to have fewer difficulty in competing for the loyalty of the Iraqis....  The number of Iraqis who don't want to stay on the wrong side of history will increase substantially.  The same can be said of the many high and mid-level civil servants of the former regime who will now have a much bigger incentive to speak on highly sensitive topics....  The capture of Saddam...permits George W. Bush and his allies to gain credibility of Iraqis in general and have more political room to manoeuvre at the domestic level....  It is in this context that the capture of Saddam Hussein has to be seen:  as an important step in the difficult transformation of the country.  As Winston Churchill said in 1942 about the toppling of the German Africa Corps in Egypt:  'This is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, likely the end of the beginning.'"


SPAIN: "Saddam's Capture Facilitates A Transiton Under International Protection"


Independent El Mundo editorialized (12/15):  "As far as trying Hussein, the most desirable course would be an International Court similar to the one formed in The Hague to try Milosevic....  There are many clear advantages of an international court's trying Saddam, rather than the court born only days ago in Baghdad....  The guarantee of impartiality will always be higher outside of Iraq than inside the country.  Much time would have to pass before the Iraqi Government could legitimately proclaim itself sufficiently impartial to judge the tyrant....  The U.S. and the international community are on the spot and the management  will determine not only the future of Iraq but also that of the region.  They can choose to persist in the way improvised by a White House ruled by its electoral schedule or make good use of the reactivation of the Baathist regimes to give the transition the time and legitimacy it needs for lasting and solid success....  It's time to say 'Mission Accomplished' and pass the leadership of the process to those who can best exercise it.  This is the big challenge for the U.S. and the international community."


"Iraq After Saddam"


Conservative ABC asserted (12/15):  "Western public opinion should know that Iraq will continue to be a scene of danger and risk....  Despite the good news of the arrest, Iraq continues being a very complex country....  The uncertainty in Iraq has not been banished, nor has the pain.  It is predictable that the Baathist regime will continue striking now that it sees itself as mortally wounded.  There is no doubt that extraordinary successes have been attained in the last months.  Capturing Saddam is another one....  Now we have to take advantage of this success....  His arrest should be used with intelligence.  With it there is the opportunity to get supporters, add forces and deactivate the criticism still existing.  In this respect, it is essential to remember that there are many who demonstrated with fact that war was made against Saddam and his regime of oppression....  Apart from the legal problems on the matter, the allies should demonstrate that now is not the time for revenge, but for law and justice."


"The Tyrant Falls"


Left-of-center El Pais asserted (12/15):  "With Saddam's arrest, the world can be better, if certain conditions are met.  The first one is if the U.S. and other democratic countries never again support, for various reasons, despots of that ilk....  The second is that the dictator receive a fair, transparent legal process, with due process for his defense....  It is unquestionable that the arrest of the dictator is a moral boost for U.S. troops and their allies, and a serious problem for the Baathists and Saddamist sectors....  The biggest news of Saddam's arrest should be to serve for both supporters and detractors of the war to unite and urgently address placing the Iraqi case under UN control, with a clear and agreed program and calendar for the birth of a democratic state....  Without the nightmare that Saddam represented, the Iraqis are, beginning today, in better conditions to be masters of their own destinies."


SWEDEN:  "The Best X-mas Gift We Could Get"


Stockholm-based conservative morning-published Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (12/15):  "The old tyrant, "The Ace of Spades," did not look very arrogant after being captured in his hole in the ground. This was a suitable place for this kind of person, not much of a hiding place for a man who for decades has portrayed himself as an emperor. After 35 years as a dictator his empire finally was reduced from the golden palaces to a small underground dungeon....  Bush and Blair's propaganda triumph has made even the most reluctant to wake up. While the UK Prime Minister rightfully congratulated the Iraqi Muslims for being relieved of the greatest symbol for the oppression, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder hastened to express their pleasure over the success of the freedom coalition....  How brave they are! Too bad that France and Germany do not belong to this alliance but, on the contrary, have oppose it in every way and thereby contributed to its setbacks....  Whether or not the capture of Saddam Hussein will have a positive effect on the security situation in Iraq is unclear. The pleasure of the symbolic value likely is not in proportion to the situation on the ground....  Last Sunday was, just as Prime Minister Göran Persson pointed out, a historic day. The capture was the best political X-Mas present we possibly could have received. But much remains in rebuilding and development before the Iraqi people can choose a new ruler. And for the alliance the remaining problem is to capture more crooks, among them Usama bin-Laden."


 TURKEY:  "Bush Has Two Options"


Ali Aslan commented in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (12/15):  “The capture of Saddam Hussein brings two options before the Bush administration.  Washington is either going to pursue a spirit of humble victory by moving toward a greater international role for Iraq’s future, or isolate itself from the world even more than before.  This is the real issue for the Bush administration, and it is even more important than the upcoming November elections.  The choice between these options is of direct interest not only to the U.S., but to the whole world.”


"Turning Point "


Hasan Cemal noted in mass appeal Milliyet (12/15):  “The Bush administration is going to feel stronger as a result of the capture of Saddam.  Let’s hope that Washington uses this important development as an opportunity to restore its relations with the UN as well as the EU.  The capture of Saddam also has the potential to have a positive impact on the modernization and democratization of the Arab world.  Iran and Syria in particular are expected to take a lesson from this event.  This is a turning point which gives a chance to establish a stable and peaceful order in the new Iraq.”


"All Applause For Americans"


The elite, English-language, moderate Turkish Daily News editorialized (12/15):  "Saddam's capture is of great symbolic value but it is up to the coalition forces to make it have a more lasting impact.  Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein should be thankful that he has been captured in free Iraq and not under a rule that resembled his totalitarian regime that executed what it regarded as opponents in an arbitrary manner....  Now that Saddam has been captured alive he should be brought to justice to pay for his atrocities.  This is a great coup for the Americans and a major morale booster for the coalition forces who are trying to serve under extremely adverse conditions. It is a Christmas present for the administration of President George W. Bush and the ailing Tony Blair government in Britain....  With Saddam's capture the expectations of some radical improvement in Iraq may be heightened among the masses who celebrated in the streets. Can the coalition rise to this occasion?  Saddam's capture has an important symbolic value but for it to make a real and meaningful impact the occasion has to be turned into a new chapter for the suffering Iraqi masses. Can this be done?  We feel the Americans can do this but it will require a new approach.  Besides all this we feel it is time Saddam and his collaborators in Iraq face a tribunal controlled by the Iraqi people and pay for their atrocities."




ISRAEL:  "Legitimate Target"


Zvi Bar'el stated in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/15):  "For the Americans far more than the Iraqis, Saddam's capture is a huge political triumph....  Yet the importance of Hussein's capture will be measured in terms of its effects on the war still being waged in Iraq, and on the country's political future....  Up to now, the American occupation has derived its legitimacy from the military imperative of removing the 'remains' of Saddam's regime....  Now, these movements are likely to take political and military steps to resist the continued presence of coalition forces in Iraq.  In these respects, Hussein's capture is liable to intensify local opposition to the continued U.S. occupation.... Judging by statements Bush made yesterday, it appears the U.S. is setting the state for a continuing presence in Iraq and is not bringing forward the dates on its departure timetable....  Therefore, it's going to be a long war, one that would continue casting the Americans as a conquering regime and therefore a legitimate target for attacks."


"A Psychological Blow"


Caroline Glick held in conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (12/15):  "Saturday night's capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was another great victory in the war on terror, equal in importance to the fall of Baghdad....  The psychological impact on Saddam's loyalists and on terrorists around the world of the picture of the tyrant's dirty, mired face and meek complicity during his medical exam by U.S. army doctors is immeasurable....  Saddam's surrender is a signal to his allies as much as to his victims.  The former attain from this sight the beginning of understanding, that theirs is a lost cause....  In capturing Saddam, the U.S. went a long way to proving that it can be relied upon to win its war.  In his surrender, Saddam showed that his loyalists, like his fellow dictators, will lose." 


"A Heavy Price"


Guy Bechor declared in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/15):  "There is no doubt that the U.S. can chalk up a military and intelligence achievement, not to mention a morale booster, upon the capture of Saddam Hussein.  However, this is an achievement on the symbolic and personal level, and of course television....  However, the Middle East is not a Hollywood movie, and on the ground, not much can be expected to change after the tyrant's capture....  Very unfortunately, Saddam Hussein's capture is no longer relevant to the violent situation of Iraq....  But worse than that, there is a Middle East paradox at play here:  not only will his capture not stop terror, it is even liable to spur it....  The Arab world is watching these developments with shock.  For their regimes, this is a terrifying lesson.  Assad, Mubarak and Arafat saw Saddam on television, but in fact, they saw themselves in his place, imagining the American investigator poking at their teeth, pulling on their hair....  People didn't love Saddam in the twilight of his days, but his very figure, which embodied hope for Arab greatness, has now vanished.  The Americans will yet pay a heavy price for those pictures."


WEST BANK:  "Downfall At Red Dawn"


Bassem Abu Sumiya commented in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (12/15):  "It is natural for the Iraqis to take to the streets to express their joy, and, likewise, it is understandable to see many others express their sadness to the same news.  It is also predictable that the resistance will diminish if indeed it is shown that it has been managed by the captured president and that the fighters have been fighting in defense of and out of loyalty to their president.  However, if it turns out that the resistance has indeed been against the occupation, then it will surely continue, exactly like what happened shortly after the capture of the Iraqi President [a reported car bomb in Baghdad yesterday]....  In any case, the capture [of Saddam] is undoubtedly happy news for President Bush, who certainly will benefit from it and be re-elected now that the Iraqi President has been brought down."


"There Is No Justification For Any Occupation"


Independent Al-Quds noted (12/15):  "The capture of Saddam exposes how fragile the Arab regimes are once their people abandon them.  The coverage of the historic capture of the Iraqi President by the international media based on footage provided by the coalition forces is painful to watch and reflects the Arab nation's state of humiliation and degradation caused by internal conflicts and disputes....  The really sad thing here is the fact that Saddam Hussein's capture and the fall of his regime were achieved at the hands of the occupation forces."


"Will Capturing Saddam Hussein Rescue The Americans From The Iraqi Crisis?"


Mohammed Nobani wrote in independent Al-Quds (12/15):  "There is no doubt that capturing a leader at the level of Saddam Hussein will have its temporary psychological impact on the Iraqi resistance.  It is also expected that the American administration will try to capitalize on the event in favor of President Bush's re-election.  It is equally anticipated that seeing Saddam behind bars will bring a burst of joy to some Iraqis and Arab ruling parties as well as Israeli Prime Minister Sharon.  But will this be the last chapter in the Iraqi scene or will it be the beginning of something worse?  Without a doubt, capturing Saddam Hussein in such a humiliating and shameful way will inflame the Iraqi resistance....  The Iraqi issue is that of occupation and liberation, and therefore the resistance will continue to be the only response to such an occupation regardless of the person or force that leads it."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Legitimate Questions"


Abha's moderate Al-Watan opined (12/15):  "The U.S. administration has accomplished its goal to remove the (Iraqi) regime and to arrest its leader.  Yet, it has not found weapons of mass destruction. We believe that it is now absolutely necessary that it publicly and clearly state the future of its presence in Iraq, now that it has achieved its objective and captured they person they thought was a threat to its security and the security of the world."


"Will Arrest Of Saddam Return Iraq To Its People?"


Jeddah's moderate Al-Bilad asked (12/15):  "The capture of Saddam Hussein was a real and powerful blow to the Iraqi resistance, which fought bravely the foreign occupation and was drawing its strength from Saddam's remaining out of the reach of the occupation forces.  Saddam's capture is certainly the last nail in the coffin of the former regime, now the Iraqi resistance faces a real test, especially after it has lost its spiritual leader....  But we hope that this is a real beginning for the return of Iraq to its people...and the departure of foreign troops forever."


"What Is After Saddam?"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina editorialized (12/15):  "The fact that the world without Saddam is a better one is only one side of the coin.  The post-Saddam Iraq must be a free, sovereign, and independent country. If the U.S. Administration is to be true to its word and intentions, then the current conditions create a golden opportunity to fulfill those promises and obligations.  The transfer of autonomy to the Iraqis must be done quickly, and the occupation of Iraq must come to an end.  Washington's reputation is at stake here. President Bush also has a golden opportunity to win the up coming election if he does the right thing."


"The Lesson Of Saddam"


Jeddah's English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette (12/15):  "Those attacking the foreign forces in Iraq and the Iraqi politicians who are seen as puppets of the American occupation are not all Saddam Hussein loyalists as some claim. Analysts believe that there are over 30 separate groups engaged in attacking occupation forces and some speculate that since Saddam is gone those who didn't want to be associated with him will be encouraged to join the resistance which will take a more nationalistic form....  Meanwhile, the capture of the Iraqi leader alive should be exploited for more than just to give U.S. President George Bush's election campaign a much needed boost....  It is a shame this great lesson had to be learned through the services of an ugly occupation.  We hope that the security protecting the courtroom from a sudden devastating blast will not be American.  Hopefully, Saddam Hussein will be tried in a democratic Iraq, so that the lesson is learned."


JORDAN:  "What Next?"


The independent, English-language Jordan Times observed (12/15):  "With the shadow of Saddam no longer hanging over the future of Iraq, the target now is to rebuild what dictatorship, war and lack of clearly articulated strategies have destroyed....  The question is how will the man who ruled Iraq with an iron fist for decades be treated....  Emotions aside, Saddam should receive a fair trial that will reflect the new Iraq. His trial must be a significant step towards instituting the rule of law in Iraq. In a democracy, there is no room for vendettas and emotionally driven reaction. Revenge against Saddam is not the answer--his trial is.  The law will ultimately prevail, and the former Iraqi leader will receive the punishment specified by the law.  The U.S....cannot afford to be intoxicated by the victory that the arrest of Saddam represents.  The Americans erred greatly in entering Iraq without having a clear plan of action.  They now have a chance to right some of their wrongs and move steadily towards helping build a safe and modern Iraq....  Despite its political and psychological significance, the excitement over the arrest of Saddam will soon fade as the continued absence of security and basic commodities remind the Iraqis of their grim reality. When the excitement ends, Iraqis will once gain start wondering when their lives will return to normal and when the foreign occupation forces will leave their land. Unless they have a promise to cling to, the Iraqi quagmire will continue to drag Iraq and the rest of the region into further despair, instability and misery."


MOROCCO:  "The Fall Of A Dictator"


Ahmed Zaki, director of the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), wrote in government coalition Al Bayane (12/15):  "It goes without saying that President Bush will take advantage of this to polish his tarnished record, which was blackened by the failure to establish security in Iraq after the invasion of allied forces....  Let’s not forget that for years the Iraqi dictator enjoyed the support of Western powers that did not hesitate to use him for their dark designs....  The acts of resistance in Iraq, far from being enacted in support of an eclipsed dictator, were in fact directed against the Western occupation and the arrogance of the American army operating on occupied territory....  Thus, if Bush wants to be effective and defuse the explosive situation in which the Middle East finds itself, he must abandon his adventurous policy and respect the will of the international community."


"Cave Man"


Amina Talhimet, head of the Rabat office of Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), commented in French-language Liberation (12/15):  "He took himself for the worthy successor of Saladin, but in fact, he was only a dictator and, furthermore, in a region of the world hermetically sealed off from liberty and democracy....  Iraqi justice will surely take care of this better than any other.  His capture was undeniably a shock, but a shock that is neither totally happy nor totally unhappy...since the end of a dictator can only be welcomed....  On the down side, his capture will presently give a new 'green light' to an American administration for which war is a policy like any other policy.  At less than a year before the American presidential elections, Bush will have every chance of being re-elected....  In any case, the world will not be a better place as long as Usama bin Laden, man of international terrorism, hasn’t been arrested and judged for all the crimes that have been committed in his name and with his blessing."


LEBANON:  "Capture Of Saddam Creates Both Danger And Opportunity"


The moderate, English-language Daily Star opined (12/15):  " The sight of Saddam in custody has to be a demoralizing blow for at least some of the organizations that have been resisting the occupation. It might also, however, embolden others who had thus far stayed out of the fight for fear of helping the former dictator in any way....  What remains to be seen is whether U.S. activities will increase or decrease stability and whether its influence will accelerate democratization or engender an authoritarian backlash....  Saddam’s capture will be portrayed by hawks in the Bush administration as confirmation that their strategy is working. On the other hand, more moderate voices in Washington will now feel better-equipped to recommend that America use its new position of strength to repair relations with its own allies and Iraq’s neighbors. It is essential that these voices be shored up by concrete proposals from this part of the world....  For far too long, governments in the Middle East have moved with all the agility and imagination of a glacier. That will simply not do any longer. Right or wrong, the United States has decided that its interests are best served by exerting greater and more direct influence on this troubled area. This can be translated into positive effects, but only if the inhabitants of the region and their leaders are ready for creative diplomacy, tough decisions and hard work. They have to show the United States how its weight can be put to good use. It is our own actions and intentions, not America’s, that will decide the issue."


UAE:  "Window Of Hope Opens For Iraq"


The English-language pro-government Gulf News declared (12/15):  "The capture of Saddam Hussain marks a turning point for Iraq, which has to be seized by both the Iraqi Governing Council and the American-led coalition.  It offers an opportunity to start afresh, to end the phase of armed resistance to the coalition, and to move ahead with rebuilding a new Iraq based on the will of the people as expressed freely and without coercion.  However, the Americans have proved far too willing to let Iraq drift since they took control of the country. The Iraqi leaders and the coalition commanders must take this chance to build a new political momentum looking for peaceful political development....  Getting Saddam into custody is a substantial boost for US President George W Bush, who has been losing credibility following his foreign adventures....  Saddam should be moved to a public trial under the Iraq tribunal on crimes against humanity. The trial should be fully transparent and conducted to the highest standards of evidence. It is important for Iraq's rediscovery of its self-respect that the trials of all the senior officials of the regime are carried out fairly and openly, with no trace of revenge or corruption....  Legal action is the only way in which the full truth can be established, untainted by revenge, through which a new political reality can be built, disowning the shocking legacy of the past....  The coalition has won the war, the Americans control the country, the Iraqis are slowly taking power into their own hands, and elections will follow soon.  With Saddam captured he will not be able to orchestrate events, nor will people have to fear that he might try do so....  Today, simple rejoicing is enough, and it should be cherished so that renewed optimism can come into the Iraqi political scene."


"A Great Day For All Iraqis"


Mohammed A.R. Galadari commented in pan-Arab Sharjah-based Al-Khaleej (12/15):  "It was a great day, dear readers, for the Iraqi people as also to the rest of the world. The former iron man of Iraq, the cruel ruler, Saddam Hussein, has been captured by the allied forces.  See how bad an experience for a former ruler after an equally bitter ouster from power at the hands of the world's super power. Saddam will never again be able to rule Iraq, nor can he punish, terrorise or indulge in all kinds of cruelty in the name of maintaining law and order in the country....  Now, as I said before, the Iraqis must give a chance to the Iraqi Governing Council and the allied forces led by America to set things right in their country....  The United States and its allies are in a position to do positive things, and I hope they would take a positive view of things. Iraqis need a better standard of life and they need to restore their dignity as well as make proper use of their wealth for the speedy development of their country.  Now is the time for all Iraqis to unite, keeping aside their differences, to rebuild their nation with the help of the allied forces. It is a great time for Iraq, as Bush said he wants to make Iraq a democracy and an example for others in the region to follow.  It is the right time for Iraqis to seize a historic opportunity. The US has made it clear that they would hand over governance to Iraqis by the middle of next year, and that there would be an elected government and new constitution. Things appear to be moving in the right direction."




AUSTRALIA: "This Will Make The World Of Difference"


Foreign editor Greg Sheridan observed in the conservative Australian (12/15):  “The capture of Saddam Hussein is the most significant event in Iraq since the end of formal combat. It is a turning point in the history of Iraq, with consequences that could be global in scope.  This will have profound and immediate consequences in Iraq.  But it will also massively bolster the position of U.S. President George W Bush.  And perhaps most significant of all, the pictures of the captured and humiliated Saddam Hussein were being watched last night in Syria, Damascus and Pyongyang.  Axis of evil dictators should know this is the end point of the defiance of US power.... The failure to capture.…[Hussein and bin Laden] was, in short, a symbol of American failure. Now the dramatic seizure of Hussein from a Tikrit basement is an equally powerful symbol of U.S. success.  This landmark event should have immediate operational consequences inside Iraq itself.  First, it will convince all Iraqis that Hussein will never, ever come back to rule them, and to persecute them, again.... This must also be a massive boost for George W Bush domestically. Nothing succeeds like success and it will be very hard for his opponents to deny this success to Bush and his policy.  All politics are temporary, but this is a great day for the good guys everywhere. “


CHINA:   "Baghdad Streets Filled With Gunshots And Revelry"


Wan Ting and Tan Zhujie commented in official Communist Party Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao, (12/15):  "For the U.S., shooting Saddam dead might have been 'more expedient' than capturing him....  Iraqi and Arab attitudes to Saddam will all influence his sentence....  Most analysts think that putting Saddam through a trial in an Iraqi court will benefit the U.S. more than bringing him before an international court....  Capturing Saddam is definitely good as far as regards the U.S. military's control of Iraq, but what kind of effect the capture will have primarily depends on the extent of Saddam's involvement in the previous Iraqi insurgency....  Saddam's capture may have struck at a certain cadre of resistance forces, but may not bring about a reversal in the U.S. military's passive position over the past couple of months.  Many people think that Iraqi stability is a rather complicated, systematic process, and one that not only requires the Iraqi people's support, but also one that needs to obtain understanding and cooperation from the whole Arab world.  Capturing Saddam is just a step.  Both Iraq and the Arab world at the moment have 'so much hatred' for the U.S.  Removing this hatred may be more important than capturing Saddam."


"Can The U.S. And UK Coalition Breathe A Sigh Of Relief?"


Shao Jie and Li Jizhi commented in official Xinhua Daily Telegraph (Xinhua Meiri Dianxun, 12/15):  "Analysts believe that Iraqi resistance forces will not call off attacks on coalition troops after Saddam's arrest.  The U.S. and UK occupation authorities may thus face a new dilemma....  Anti-U.S. military forces in Iraq are not all Saddam followers.  Quite a few have no direct political or financial connection to Saddam.  If the security situation in Iraq does not improve soon after Saddam's capture, the occupation authorities will face even more dissatisfaction from the Iraqi people.  After Saddam's arrest, Iraqi people's expectations for political and economic reconstruction will just become fiercer, and the U.S. and UK will face greater political and economic pressures.  That Saddam may turn his trial into a spectacle for expressing his opinions...will become another difficulty for the occupation authorities....  In a word, Saddam's capture is significant for the U.S. and UK, but does not necessarily mean the that various problems in Iraq would be immediately solved."


"Bush Administration Gains 'Timely Help'"


Zhang Guoqing commented in official Beijing Times (Jinghua Shibao, 12/15):  "Saddam's capture will inspire the coalition troops, especially helping American troops' morale, putting them in a better mood to face the resistance forces who may possibly become depressed....  The Bush administration's domestic pressures will be greatly alleviated.  Bush can happily say to Americans--`we got him.'...  Capturing Saddam alive will not radically change the current situation in Iraq.  Bush is still facing a lot of challenges if he indeed wants to walk out of the winter of Iraq."


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Iraqis Can Turn The Page On A Brutal Chapter"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (12/15):  "Whether the violence and terror attacks end immediately, it is clear that the capture is a significant milestone in the war.  Most importantly for the Iraqi people, it means that Hussein will be brought to justice.  If an open and fair trial is delivered as promised, there will be a chance for the people to understand and put Hussein's brutal reign behind them....  Bringing the former leader and his top lieutenants to justice would lay the groundwork for reconciliation and reconstruction--through psychological catharsis and also by allowing the country to finally tap the talent, knowledge and energy of those who served unwillingly in Hussein's administration....  For those Iraqis who did not really believe that the tyrant was out of power, the capture will come as a relief.  The cloud of fear under which they lived, up until his confirmed capture, was real.  The scenes of celebration were also genuine.  It was a great day for Iraqis.  But much hard work remains ahead, for Iraqis and the international community."


"Merry Christmas In The Battlefield, Not Victory In Counter Terrorism"


The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented (12/15):  "Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was arrested--this is good news.  However, the world cannot rest in peace just because of the arrest....  The arrest of Hussein is a victory for Bush and it will be favorable for the financial market.  However, is it a victory for the war on counter terrorism?  No.  The 'axis of terror' is not Hussein or Iraq--it is bin Laden and the al-Qaeda group....  Capturing Hussein may reduce the arrogance of the terrorists, but it will not be a heavy blow....  It is troubling that the arrest of Hussein may bolster the morale of the U.S. hawks.  They may even lead U.S. diplomacy again.  If U.S. unilateralism and pre-emptive policy become the norm again, it will be bad for the U.S.' European allies and it will be difficult to secure global assistance.  Whether the arrest of Hussein is good or bad for the global war on terrorism hinges on the actions of Bush."


"Saddam Is Caught, U.S. Burden Has Not Yet Been Removed"


The independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News opined (12/15):  "Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured;  a corrupt autocrat has come to a frustrated end.  It is also the best Christmas present for U.S. President George W. Bush.  However, for the Iraqi people who are still living with the flames of war, peaceful and happy days are far away.  The road of reconstruction is long and difficult....  Life for the Iraqi people after the war is even harder than before.  Although they have rich oil resources, outdated facilities and damaged transportation facilities have slowed down oil production.  When the machine of dictatorship, which was used by Saddam to maintain the country's stability, dissolved, more than half of the new military troops applied for retirement.  There is still no figure or system that can stabilize Iraq.  A stable and prosperous Iraq is still far away.  For the U.S. to find a way to withdraw from Iraq without leaving an awful mess behind will be more difficult than capturing Saddam Hussein."


JAPAN:  "Encouraging News For President Bush"


Quasi-governmental NHK-TV's chief Washington correspondent Teshima observed (12/15):  "The U.S. military's capture of Saddam Hussein during a lightning night-time raid came as an encouraging sign for President Bush, who had been anxiously waiting for 'good news' since the fall of Baghdad about seven months ago.  The arrest of the former Iraqi dictator will undoubtedly help boost the morale of senior Bush and DOD officials at a time when an increasing number of American troops are coming home from Iraq, tired of combat and critical about the administration's conduct of war in Iraq....  President Bush cautiously welcomed Saddam's capture, and expressed hope that the capture would help bring stability to Iraq and lead to increased reconstruction efforts.  With the transfer of authority from the U.S.-led CPA to an interim Iraqi government, set for June 2004, the Bush administration is likely to use this morale-boosting event to re-start plans for Iraq's stabilization and rebuilding by convincing Iraqis that Saddam's capture means a final end to decades of his ruthless dictatorship.  The U.S. military will intensely question Saddam about his WMD plans and possible locations of such weaponry in order to address doubts about the justification of the US-led war on Iraq."                


"Saddam's Capture and Iraq's Future"


Baghdad-based freelance journalist Watanabe commented on commercially-run Fuji-TV's Monday morning talk show "Scoop" (12/15):  "What most Iraqis are looking for in their chaotic and economically ailing country are good paying jobs to support their families.  They are desperate and poor.  If the U.S.-led CPA is not able to create more jobs readily, hard-pressed Iraqi will become more antagonistic to the 'heretical' US government and its military.  It is little wonder that some die-hard opponents will take advantage of deep-rooted Iraqi desperation and anger to intensify acts of terrorism against coalition forces, international organizations and even NGO groups....  The capture of Saddam will not readily bring stability and improvement to the war-fatigued, impoverished, religiously separate and intrinsically anti-Western nation.  Confusion will continue for more time to come."  


SOUTH KOREA:  "Seizing Saddam Hussein"


The independent, English-language Korea Herald noted (12/16):  "With the capture of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by Coalition forces, the planned dispatch of additional Korean troops to the Middle East country makes a little more sense. The mission of the Korean contingent that is to help rebuild the country politically and economically has become clearer and it will be easier to accomplish....   The Coalition forces have failed to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Bush's primary reason for going to war. But the U.S. president can comfort himself and his people with the capture of Saddam Hussein, who a European leader wittily described as a human WMD. Bush must now believe that, by illustrating the atrocities Saddam committed against his own people through a war crimes trial, he can offer sufficient justification for the war.  Yet there is the issue of how the trial should be carried out. Members of the Iraqi Governing Council assert that a public trial should be conducted by an Iraqi tribunal after July 1, when the U.S. occupying administration is scheduled to end. But many in the United States, and elsewhere, seek to have a trial conducted under international law....  The Iraqi people should decide what to do with the captured dictator....  That stabilization process will definitely need the assistance of Coalition forces to eliminate armed resistance. But it also seems to be an appropriate time to begin discussing in earnest how to augment the participation of the international community in the rehabilitation of Iraq."  


INDONESIA:  “Fate Of Saddam Hussein”


Independent Media Indonesia commented (12/15):  “Saddam was finally captured alive in a bunker made for him.  He looked healthy and showed cooperation during his medical check-up.…  The fall of Iraq and the end of the Saddam Hussein regime reflected more of Bush’s subjective view.  It constituted the arbitrary stance of the leader of a superpower that no one, even the UN, could prevent.  In this perspective Bush should be punished because he has devastated a country without being able to prove its mistake and toppled a leader of a legitimate country through armed force.…  What is clear is that the U.S. does not have any right to punish Saddam.  He should be returned to the Iraqi people and let’s them decide his fate.”




INDIA:  "Gotcha!"


The centrist Times of India observed (12/15):  "Just when it seemed that having won the war in Iraq, the U.S. was losing a troublesome peace...the dramatic capture of Saddam Hussein will send George W. Bush's plummeting ratings soaring through the roof again.  The iron man of Iraq was literally caught napping, bringing to an end one of the greatest manhunts in history.  With a single lucky stroke, Bush would have silenced his growing band of critics and vindicated Operation Iraq....  Saddam's capture should not only break the back of the guerrilla opposition but also ease America's path in getting wider endorsement and support to set up a bona fide Iraqi administration.  However, dealing with Saddam after his capture could prove as tricky as getting him.  Because there is always the risk that any hint of kangaroo-court justice will only make a martyr out of Saddam and rally more jihadis to his admittedly lost cause.  Washington's best bet would be to form an international tribunal under UN auspices, to try Saddam and pronounce suitable sentence.  For now, it's two cheers for Dubya.  He'll get the third hurrah when he gets Osama, who, if anyone cares to remember, was Bush's original target."


"Iraq Insurgency Isn't Dead Yet"


Foreign affairs editor Pramit Pal Chaudhuri wrote in the nationalist Hindustan Times (12/15):  "Until his capture on Saturday night, his (Saddam's) image had evolved to that of a wily desert fox.  In the end, his capture was largely symbolic.  But in the Arab streets and in a U.S. heading for a presidential election, symbols count big time.  No one expects the Baathist fidayeen, the most effective and most numerous of the Iraqi resistance fighters, to hand in their weapons....  The U.S. believes one of Hussein's former vice-presidents, Izzat Ibrahim al Duri, has been leading the fidayeen.  And he is still at large....  What Washington really hopes to realize from Hussein's capture is to make more Iraqis willing to cooperate in building a new, pro-Western Iraqi order.  U.S. officials and most reports by visitors to the country say most Iraqis may have hated Hussein's regime but they are reluctant to work with the Americans.  One reason was that so long as Hussein was free there was a fear he would return to power--and wreak vengeance on those who had worked with the Americans....  This fear was heightened as the U.S. was faced in Iraq with an escalating cost in bodies and dollars.  Each day only strengthened a concern the U.S. would pull out and Hussein would return to power.  Only now has this scenario been buried....  Hussein's capture, anything that helps ensure the U.S. finishes the job, is judged as being for the good."


"Difficulties Still Ahead" 


An editorial in independent Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika read (12/15):  "The concern of what would be the high point of his annual and the last edition (this time) of the State of Union Address must have been pestering Bush.  Saddam's capture indeed has lightened that burden on him. Now, Bush would be able to echo Paul Bremer's dramatic announcement and his single sentence, 'We have got him' will push President Bush much ahead in his PR exercise....  However, at this moment he needs to tackle the serious question of Saddam's trial. It can be said undoubtedly even keeping Milosevic's reference in mind that post WWII an opportunity of such a great trial did not occur before. How Saddam's trial gets conducted as well as how its media management is handled would be one of the chief attractions in the next year....  The concept of the balance of the international power-play will be put to test once again centering this trial. And experience does not kindle hope."


PAKISTAN:  "Implications of Saddam's Capture"


Ejaz Haider wrote in the Lahore-based moderate Daily Times (12/15):  "First, the arrest is a major breakthrough for President Bush in terms of domestic political advantage.  It will also give a boost to the sagging morale of Washington neo-cons; two, it reflects improved intelligence capabilities of the U.S. military; three, it is likely to be a setback to the morale of whatever percentage of Saddam loyalists there might be out there hoping for a return to power, or, at least frustrate attempts by the U.S. to install a new political dispensation to govern Iraq....  However, what the U.S. might do with Hussein will be an interesting reflection of the maturity of U.S. policy....  If Hussein is tried by the Iraqi Governing Council, it will establish Washington's credentials as a power that has Iraq's interests at heart; if he is tried by a U.S. court, it would denote the hubris of an occupying power." 


"Saddam's Capture"


Sajjad Mir maintained in second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-E-Waqt (12/15):  "What is my reaction, I don't know.  I should not be grieved because Saddam was never my hero.  But I was not happy either--no victory of the Americans in Iraq makes me happy....  Perhaps there is a revolutionary inside me that wants an imperial power to be defeated at all costs.  Perhaps there is a Muslim inside me who wants the annihilation of anti-Muslim forces.  Say what you will, I admit I was not happy at Saddam's capture either." 




GHANA:  "The Arrest Of Saddam Hussein And The Future Of Iraq"

An editorial in the tri-weekly Heritage stated (12/15): "It is certainly a great day in the history of Iraq and a decisive moment in the U.S.-led coalition forces campaign in post war Iraq.  The nightmare may finally be over for a traumatized nation.  It is equally essential for the U.S. to quickly relinquish administrative hold of post-Saddam Iraq to Iraqis.  The longer they stay on conquered soil, and the more reconstruction contracts go to U.S. corporate bodies, the stronger the impression in Arab minds that the whole campaign in Iraq was a colonial resource-grab.  As a postscript, the Heritage notes that the video footage apparently showing a dishevelled-looking Saddam Hussein with a long black beard hiding in a hole barely six to eight feet deep tends to lend credence to the philosophy that all dictators are cowards.  That is a lesson for other despots to learn."


UGANDA:  "Okuwata Saddam Kyokka"


Uganda's Swahili-language Bukedde editorialized (12/15):  "The capture of Saddam Hussein is a very great achievement for the coalition forces in Iraq.  However it is just one step in the global fight against terrorism.  The U.S should now actively pursue its goal of winning the hearts and minds of the people of Iraq by speeding up the rebuilding of the ravaged country.  This will prove that the U.S administration is really interested in the welfare of the Iraqis and that the war wasn't carried out as a mere personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein."


ZAMBIA:  "Capture Of Saddam Is Climax Of American/British Invasion"


An editorial in government-owned Times of Zambia contended (12/15):  "Saddam may have been a tyrant, a criminal, call him anything, but the world still quarrels with the manner and mode in which he was ousted from power by the powerful nations who on paper believe in democracy and the rule of law....  The people of Iraq who had been oppressed under Saddam's  iron rule for over two decades need relief very quickly. The war has also brought insecurity and untold misery. As if that is not enough, there are insurgents, some of them reportedly foreign fighters, who may want to continue fighting because they consider the invasion of Iraq as an attack on Islam and the Islamic world. Therein lies the problem.  America, Britain and other allies need to move very quickly to restore order in Iraq. There is a huge task of reconstructing the nation whose structures have been brought down to debris....  However, many people in Iraq believe that the situation in that country can only improve when the Americans and the British leave. For them whether Saddam has been captured or not, foreigners are still occupying their land....  But the real challenge would be putting down the insurgency of foreigners mostly from the Muslim world who would not like to see a democracy emerge in Iraq.  A successful democracy in Iraq will certainly not only be a threat to surrounding countries but the rest of the Muslim world."




CANADA:  "Iraq Without Saddam"


The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (Internet version, 12/15):  "Until Saturday's dramatic capture, Iraq was in danger of tipping the wrong way....  The insurgency has taken its toll.  The escalating attacks on U.S., Iraqi and international targets have undermined confidence in the noble U.S.-led effort to rebuild the country and turn it over to a new, representative Iraqi government.  Mr. Hussein's capture will not end that insurgency, as U.S. military leaders were the first to point out.  There may even be more attacks in the short term as elements of his old Baathist regime retaliate for the capture of their leader.  Even so, the arrest of the old tyrant is bound to have a huge psychological impact....  For Iraqis, both pro-Saddam and anti-Saddam, he is a legendary, almost superhuman figure, portrayed in his own propaganda as invincible.  Now Saddam Hussein has been revealed to all Iraqis for what he is:  a man like any other.  The unforgettable photos of the fearless leader, bearded and bewildered, meekly opening his mouth for an oral examination will crush what is left of his cult of personality....  Iraq's governing council says that Mr. Hussein will be put on trial by the country's new war crimes tribunal.  Good.  He has much to answer for.  But the main task ahead is to translate his capture into progress for Iraq.  It is not just the United States that stands to win or lose in Iraq.  The whole world has a stake in a successful transition from dictatorship and war to democracy and peace.  The capture of Saddam Hussein is a crucial step in that process and an exciting day for Iraq.  Now let's all pull together to finish the job."


"Capture Puts Lie To 'Quagmire' Tag"


Kelly McParland remarked in the conservative National Post (Internet version, 12/15):  "When Saddam Hussein was dragged from his pit near Tikrit yesterday, the air got knocked right out of the 'Iraq is a quagmire' campaign.  Iraq has never been a quagmire, nor even close.... There have been setbacks in reconstruction, but a great deal of progress too.  There has been legitimate frustration and anger among Iraqis that their lot has not improved as quickly or as dramatically as everyone would have hoped, but also regular indications that most Iraqis nonetheless recognize they are better off under temporary U.S. dominance than they were under Saddam's decades of tyrannical control....  As long as Saddam remained alive and on the loose there was always the danger--no matter how remote--that he would return.  As the frequency and effect of anti-U.S. attacks grew bolder, the fear of this possibility grew, and co-operation with the Americans waned....  It has somehow become more acceptable to attack Mr. Bush for risking U.S. lives than to condemn Saddam for murdering Iraqis....a situation that may finally change with the capture of Saddam.  It underlines a simple question.  Given the choice, who would you want running your country:  a democratic if imperfect administration like the one in Washington, or that madman they dragged out of a hole in the ground yesterday?"


"Saddam's Capture Brings Iraqis Hope"


The liberal Toronto Star took this view (Internet version, 12/15):  "Saddam Hussein was a sworn foe of America and its allies, a mocker of the United Nations and a regional bully....  His capture by American troops in a bloodless raid, as the 'Lion of Baghdad' cowered in a rat-infested hole...closes a brutal two-decade chapter in Iraq's tortured history and turns the page to hope.  By taking Saddam alive the Americans have wisely ensured that a mass murderer does not become a martyr.  They have decapitated his Baathist party.  And they have served notice to Saddam's insurgent sympathizers that the regime is truly finished, making armed resistance pointless....  Bush had no need to gloat over Saddam's arrest.  Pictures of a dishevelled, humiliated Saddam captured the moment as eloquently as the president might have....   Ideally [Saddam] should be brought to justice before a United Nations' tribunal or one sanctioned by the U.N., as were criminal leaders in the Balkans and Rwanda.  Justice, not vengeance, is required.  While a UN court would not impose the death penalty, it would be better placed to hold a credible trial than the U.S.-dominated Iraqi Governing Council, acting alone....  This arrest does nothing to strengthen Bush's weak moral case for a $150 billion war that cost the lives of 13,000 Iraqis and more than 500 allied troops....  Still, his arrest invites Iraqis to move forward, and rebuild their society.  What's needed now is a speedy transition to Iraqi self-rule, preferably under UN supervision, with the U.S. playing a supporting role.  And with financial help from nations such as Canada that rightly sat out the war, but which should offer Iraqis a helping hand shaping the peace."


ARGENTINA:  "The Victory Bush Needed"


Jorge Rosales, Washington-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion wrote (12/15):  "While it has not marked the end of terrorist violence on Baghdad streets, the capture of Saddam Hussein represents a political victory for U.S. President George W. Bush that places him again on the center of the stage with the strength and leadership of the days following the downfall of the Hussein regime.  The capture of the former dictator can mark a turning point in postwar by undermining the morale of guerrillas who are loyal to the removed leader and encouraging the reconstruction process....  It is also some important encouragement for demoralized U.S. soldiers, who were just starting to wonder why they were fighting in Iraq, and also for the Iraqi people who, encouraged by terrorist violence, had started to believe that coalition forces were vulnerable, and, therefore, that it was not worthwhile to remain passive in view of the military occupation.  The capture of Saddam also empowers the campaign on terrorism and the efforts in the war on al-Qaida....  For Bush, it is a victory both in U.S. domestic politics and in the international field.  On the international front, it is a demonstration of a concrete outcome, the most important since the downfall of the Saddam regime....  It can give new impetus to his ambitious project to democratize the Middle East....  The head of the White House's future was largely tied to the luck of U.S. soldiers in the Iraqi war and, why not, to the capture of Saddam.  The violence of latest months had undermined the president's international credibility."


"Was The Leader Of The Resistance Captured"


Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst of leading Clarin judged (12/15):  "Will this capture mark the end of violence in Iraq?  It is very difficult to answer this question because the phenomenon of the Iraqi resistance to the so unknown that it is impossible to know who inspires it and, particularly, who leads it.  In any event, Saddam seems an unlikely leader--cornered in successive refuges, in a limited area and almost alone, he does not seem to have been in a position to lead not even his own luck.  Also, the hatred he raises among many Iraqis does not place him in the best position to inspire any fight.  It would be a mistake if this victory of Bush diverts the attention of analysts of this resistance and of Islamic anti-U.S. feeling, if they only saw in the captured dictator 'the' symbol and not just one mere symbol among several ones."


BRAZIL:  "Former Dictator's Imprisonment Encourages Arab Opening"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo international editor Sergio Malbergier held (12/15):  "Saddam Hussein's capture is good news for George W. Bush's reelection campaign, but it may be potentially even better for Iraqis and Arabs in general....  His capture has emptied the dreadful dictator's myth.  It was difficult during his regime to hear in Baghdad's streets any opinion about Saddam Hussein due to fear of retaliation that the mere mention of his name might  cause.  Seeing the humiliating images of his capture, the Iraqis will no longer fear the threat of the dictator's comeback.  But the main benefit of Saddam's imprisonment may be an encouragement to the Arab world's timid movement of opening....  Let's hope that Saddam is publicly judged by his fellow Iraqis who suffered under his bloody regime."


"Capture Is Bush's Electoral Trump Card"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo NYC correspondent Cintia Cardoso noted (12/15): "Saddam Hussein's imprisonment will be one of the major trump cards to try to ensure President George W. Bush's reelection.... The military occupation in Iraq has been a focus of instability for Bush's campaign.... Saddam's capture may cause changes in the Democratic Party's campaign.... The tone with which the democrats reacted to the capture was one of not giving it political relevance."    


MEXICO:  “A Good Sign”


An editorial in business-oriented Financiero read (12/15):  “The capture of Saddam Hussein...allows us to glimpse a more rapid global economic recuperation.  The effects will be seen immediately in the financial markets....  The news--a political triumph for George W. Bush- will strengthen his efforts for re-election, and also provides an opportunity for the White House to assume its responsibility under international law and hasten its exit from Baghdad.”


“A Pyrrhic And Dark Victory”


Left-of-center La Jornada editorialized (12/15):  “The capture of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein by the American army that invaded and destroyed Iraq has been presented to international public opinion as a great victory for the Bush administration and a fundamental step to undermine the Iraqi resistance and pacify that unlucky Arab country....  From all these suppositions, the only true fact is that the arrest of the former Iraqi leader could turn into an important boost to the popularity of President Bush....  The American and English soldiers are over there not to liberate Iraqi people nor to guarantee national or regional peace, but to conduct their dirty business using stolen Iraqi resources...and with frauds like that one by the former partners of Cheney.”


COSTA RICA:  "The Captive Dictator"


Influential La Nacion opined (12/15):  "The capture of Saddam Hussein opens great expectations for Iraq....  The all powerful and sanguinary 66 year old man is today a prisoner in the hands of justice...and though it is not certain where he will be tried...we do know with certainty that there is no impunity for his crimes....  Among the risks (that lay ahead) are profound religious and ethnic divisions in the country, the lack of a democratic culture, the renewed impetus for Shiite Muslim fundamentalism, the impact of international terrorism and the instability of some of its neighbors.  Joining this is the scarce legitimacy and administrative capacity of the local authorities named by the United States and the difficulty of giving a real multinational characterization to the foreign presence in Iraq....  U.S. President George Bush was clear in reiterating his intentions to collaborate in the rise of a free and independent Iraq, which implies the well being of its population.  We do not doubt this objective, but we believe that to improve the possibilities of reaching it, the U.S. should seek a full reconciliation with the international community and the full spectrum of Iraqi society.  With Hussein finally behind bars, this process will be easier.  We hope that the new window of opportunity and hope that has opened will soon overflow in better results.”


NICARAGUA:  "The Great Criminal's Capture"


Center-right Managua-based La Prensa observed (12/15):  "Saddam Hussein's capture is the U.S. and its allies' most important victory since the tyrant's fall in April. And it is particularly important because it happened at a time when the Iraqi people and the allies are resisting the most fierce terrorist offensive since the beginning of the war. And, although this does not mean the end of the war against terrorism, what is most probable is that the process of normalizing democracy in that country will enter a stage of faster and more consistent advance....  The U.S. could have kept Saddam Hussein's capture a secret, taken all information possible out of him, killed him and informed the public that he was killed in combat; something everyone would have believed since the killer said that the U.S. would only take him dead. But in a democracy, principles are more important than conveniences. So the U.S. prefers that Saddam live, and they can bring him to justice, even if they have to pay a high political price, because the world's left--with a high influence on the media--will without any doubt use all types of pressure in favor of this singular prisoner. In any case, Saddam Hussein should go to trial as soon as possible, necessarily in a summary trial because of his terrible crimes, and the tribunal who judges him must apply the maximum penalty possible, which is the least with which the Baghdad murderer should be punished with; he who has millions of lives on his conscience, victims of his ill-fated ramblings."


GUATEMALA: "Saddam Hussein"


Guatemala's largest circulation tabloid Nuestro Diario commented (12/15):  "After eight months of intense search...  Saddam Hussein was captured yesterday morning....  He gave himself up like a lamb. The announcement has caused satisfaction to the entire civilized world.  The challenge at hand is to initiate the reconciliation process in a country broken by Hussein's dictatorship....  For the United States and its allies this is an opportunity to honorably conclude this chapter...and return Iraq, the cradle of civilization, its sovereignty."

JAMAICA:  "Saddam's Capture"

The Editor-in-Chief of the centrist, business-oriented Jamaica Observer opined (12/15):   There is something humiliating about the process...many people distrust America's motives.  Add to this the incendiary matter of radical Islam and a sense that the U.S. policy in the Middle East has hardly been even-handed, and there is the mix for a deadly cocktail.  Which is what has been playing out daily in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities...the removal of Saddam Hussein could well make matters more complicated for President Bush and his key ally, Prime Minister Blair of the United Kingdom.  Groups who might not have wanted to be identified or to be associated with Saddam may now emerge to resist the occupation, either at the political level or in guerrilla attacks...with the shadow of Saddam Hussein gone, the quarrelsome religious factions, which have kept their disagreements in check--for fear that they might appear to be giving strength to Saddam loyalists--may spill over into major public fights....  It is important, therefore, that our friends in Washington manage this situation carefully.  The Bush administration has to be more accommodating to the international community on the Iraq issue and has to talk with greater humility about the process in Iraq.  There must be a credible exit strategy.  Our friends must not assume that Europe after the Marshal Plan provides a clear template for a culturally different society in a different historic and political context...too much of the official speak about the country and what is being done in Iraq rings as patronizing.  Iraq is a major sore on the international body politic.  It demands delicate and judicious handling if there is to be healing."

PANAMA:  "Freedom Wins"

Pro-government La Estrella de Panama declared (12/15):  "Thanks to the decisiveness, perseverance and courage of U.S. President George Bush and of the international coalition...the oppressive regime fell and Iraq now is building a solid democracy where human rights, freedom of expression, and religious liberty are respected, along with the self determination of each and every people, nationality, or minority that integrates that great country. “



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