International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 16, 2003

July 16, 2003





**  The council's formation is a "symbolic milestone" for democracy and self-government.


**  Bremer created the council in response to "pressure from the Iraqi resistance."  


**  Sunnis claim the council's ethnic makeup is not a "true representation" of Iraq's citizens.


**  Leftist and Arab skeptics allege the council is merely an "extension of the occupation." 




The interim council is a 'step forward' in Iraq's march to democracy--  The creation of the Governing Council is a "first step" towards "giving back power to the Iraqis."  Leftist dailies noted "rising Iraqi frustrations with post-war disorder" and the council's "transitional" nature, but appreciated that "at least the Americans have started transferring some authority."  Lebanon's independent Daily Star demanded the council gain enough independence to "implement meaningful decisions."  A Finnish writer hoped the council could provide "symbolic, popular legitimacy" by crafting "a budget, a government and a constitution." 


'National discontent' over the occupation prompted the council's creation--  Arab and Italian dailies claimed "international, regional and domestic pressures...pushed the occupation" into forming the council.  Rome's center-right Il Giornale cited "the deteriorating internal, economic and above all military situation" for the "rapid and important" birth of the council.  Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Nadwa called the council a "clear admission" that the coalition is "unable to run Iraq's affairs."  Tunisia's independent Tunis-Hebdo termed it an attempt to stop the "human and financial hemorrhage" in postwar Iraq.


The council's ethnic composition 'will no doubt displease the Sunnis'--  Observers disagreed whether the council will alleviate Iraq's "religious, ethnic and territorial differences."  Jordanian dailies praised this first governing body "in the history of Iraq where seats are distributed in accordance with the demographic distribution."  But Turkey's mass-appeal Hurriyet complained the U.S. included "all political organizations in Iraq, with the notable exception of the Turkoman."  Sunni Arab writers termed the council's "Shi'ite majority...a real danger."  Poland's centrist Rzeczpospolita asked if "an artificial country like Iraq can survive without an authoritarian power." 


Critics say the council is a 'mere rubber-stamp' for a 'difficult occupation'--  The council "met with a wave of denunciations and negativity" because it lacks "democratic legitimization."  Lebanon's moderate An-Nahar labeled it the "local Iraqi cover for the American occupation," adding its powers are "ambiguous and lacking."  Given that key matters of sovereignty remain in Bremer's hands, it will not be easy to convince Iraqis that "the council represents something beyond U.S. interests," according to Brazil's liberal Folha de S. Paulo.


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 42 reports from 23 countries over 14 - 16 July 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date. 




BRITAIN:  "Iraq's Real Rulers Need To Admit Their Mistakes"


The center-left Independent commented (7/14):  "Mr. Blair and his defensive spin doctors cannot pretend that every part of the case for war that crumbles under sustained scrutiny is peripheral or minor....  The best course for Mr. Blair would be to accept that the intelligence on Iraq was flawed.  He could take the exit politely held open for him by Robin Cook, and say that he acted in good faith.  He should order an independent inquiry into the decision to go to war....  Only by accepting the flaws in the original case for war is Mr. Blair likely to be able to gather support for its retrospective humanitarian justification....  It must be hoped that Iraq can be rebuilt as a democratic, stable and prosperous country.  But that requires a better thought-out plan and will be easier if all those involved are honest about their mistakes and open about learning from them."


GERMANY:  “Vice-Kingdom Iraq”


Karl Grobe maintained in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (7/16):  “The Iraqi interim council and the ministers it will appoint do not have independent access to financial resources and any of its decisions will have to be coordinated with the ‘authority.’  This is exactly what the Pentagon has wanted; this is what Washington told Saddam’s opponents when they had formed a coalition of only seven groups and parties.  The 25-member council has even more potential for friction than the old group of seven.  All of this was already obvious on the council’s first day: The spokesman for Sairi, the former Shiite exile organization, requested the speedy withdrawal of Americans and the British while others sang President Bush’s praises.  For as long as the foreign troops remain in Iraq the council will be an assembly of dignitaries without real power.”


“Hope For Baghdad”


Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg judged (7/15):  “The Iraqi interim council has failed to perform its very first task: The decision about who should head the council has been postponed.  Nothing could better illustrate the current state of Iraq’s political landscape.  The former opposition is fractured, has no plan, and lacks experience.  It will be very difficult to make it take on responsibility.  That is why it is a genuine success for the Americans to have been able to put together a representative body.  Even though it lacks democratic legitimization, the interim council is the best of all poor decisions.”


ITALY:  "Shiite Seal On New Iraqi Government"


Alberto Pasolini Zanelli commented in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (7/14):  “Iraq has a new ‘government,’ a new American offensive, new attacks and new disputes.  A provisional executive [council] was officially established yesterday in Baghdad, at the end of intense and hurried consultations, under the pressure of the deteriorating internal, economic and above all military situation.  The need to ‘do something’ in order to try to please the more acceptable national discontent against the foreign occupation can be seen first of all in the rapid and important evolution, at least on a formal level, that the institution has undergone since the project was launched in the United States.  It was supposed to be an ‘Political Advisory Council,’ today it is called ‘Government council.’”


FINLAND:  "New Faces Introduced In Effort To Solve Iraq's Problems"


Leading, centrist Helsingin Sanomat editorialized (7/15):  "Iraq has a new governing council...but the Coalition Provisional Authority remains the de-facto governing body.  The men and women of the 25-member council are fairly unknown to many Iraqis, and they do not have much street credibility for the time being.  For Iraq's future, it is crucial that religious, ethnic and territorial differences not turn into dividing lines among the population.  The Governing Council may help to avoid that if its daily political wrestling with the CPA teaches the Council's various groups how to work together."


"Iraq’s National Council Only A Symbol For Now"


Left-of-center Hufvudstadsbladet declared (7/15):  "The U.S. decision to put in place a national council in Iraq is partially an attempt to divert attention from other Iraq-related problems facing the Americans. Criticism of the Bush administration’s way of planning and justifying the war continues to grow amid an increasing number of attacks made against U.S. troops.  There is not much the national council can do about this--or about anything else, for that matter, except propose a number of measures to be taken by the Americans. It is important that Iraq should have a budget, a government and a constitution outlining a procedure for the holding of elections. Possibly the council can lend its proposals a kind of symbolic, popular legitimacy. Anyway, the fact remains that nothing will happen in Iraq without U.S. approval.  Because the United States is occupying Iraq, there is nothing strange about this. No matter how poor the arguments cited by the Bush administration for its war were, the war is now over and the United States, as an occupying power, bears responsibility for shaping Iraq’s future.”


"Puppet Government Or Augur Of Democracy"


Right-of-center Aamulehti commented (7/15):  "The council's first challenge is to convince the Iraqis that the council is not a mere puppet regime set up by the occupying power--a collection of today’s Quislings....  Although the United States and Nazi Germany have nothing in common and although Iraq’s governing council seems, on the face of it, highly representative, its legitimacy cannot be taken for granted.”


IRELAND:  "Occupation Hazards"


The center-left Irish Times opined (7/15):  "India's decision yesterday not to send troops to Iraq because a suitable UN resolution is not in place...provides further confirmation that the post-war U.S.-British occupation is in deep trouble....  Its failure to agree...has forced U.S. leaders to admit publicly that up to 150,000 American troops will need to remain in Iraq for several years if that state is to be stabilised.  Such a prospect is causing much greater disquiet in U.S. and British public opinion, stoked by the mounting casualties caused by Iraqi resistance and the growing controversy over whether voters were misled about the reasons for going to war....  Both Bush and Blair have an unenviable task in navigating these pathways of political commitment and trust, especially since they were so convinced they were right to go to war despite the lack of an explicit UN mandate, and were so determined to limit the UN's subsequent role....  The inaugural meeting of a U.S.-appointed governing council over the weekend is at best a tentative first step in bringing self-government, very much subject to U.S. control.”


NORWAY:  “Iraq’s Council”


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten declared (7/15):  “The council is in any case a step in the right direction, even if it should have been convened long before. The U.S. will not manage to steer Iraq, even with several hundred thousand soldiers in the country. The Iraqis must be included, and should take over everything as soon as they can. This assumes also that the U.S. does not use its veto right, but accepts that it is the Iraqis themselves who should decide over their country’s future.”


POLAND:  “On The Iraqi Sands”


Bronislaw Wildstein stated in centrist Rzeczpospolita (7/14):  “In Iraq, the limited scope of the war and the gentleness of the occupying forces--in contrast to the regime of Saddam Hussein--have made the regime’s supporters impudent and raised the hopes of the Iraqi people, who were expecting order and prosperity right away. The power that the Americans have demonstrated in the military operation shows that anything is possible for them. The conduct of the Iraqi people is very much like that of world public opinion, which demands solutions at the pace of TV newscasts.  The establishment of the Ruling Council in Iraq is the first step toward giving back power to the Iraqis. The fact the Americans reserve the right to provisionally control this power is appropriate. For many years, there was a similar situation in Germany and Japan. Needless to say, Iraq is a long way from being fully stabilized, just as it could take a while to answer the basic question whether an artificial country like Iraq can survive without an authoritarian power and whether the integrity of that country is worth fighting for.”


SPAIN:  "Iraqi Authority"


Centrist La Vanguardia stated (7/14):  "The Council of Government created in Baghdad yesterday is the first step towards a really autonomous Executive since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime....  The risk is evident for [its members]--that they will be considered as mere puppets of the U.S. occupiers by their fellow citizens, but one can not deny that the forming of the Council is a step forward.  Theoretically, the next steps are the drafting of a constitution, its ratification in referendum and the call for free elections, but almost all is subject to the pacification of the country."


"Iraq, A Step Towards Normality"


Independent El Mundo observed (7/14):  "Better late than never.  Paul Bremer...has needed two months to understand that stabilization and reconstruction are impossible without quick steps towards self-government....  If...Bremer...little by little, gives the Iraqi leaders real powers and the necessary means to exert their mandate, the foundations will be laid for an Iraq, federal, united and more democratic than ever."


SWEDEN:  "New Civilian Rule"


Stockholm's conservative Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (7/15):  "The new civilian rule in Iraq is more important than whether or not Iraq bought uranium in Niger...but to the opponents of the liberation of Iraq, the uranium issue is worth gold....  Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, Hans Blix's predecessor, has reminded us all that Iraq had both produced and used WMD.  The fact that no smoking gun was found is not very surprising; the threat instead was know-how and civilian installations with military capability.  There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein did not comply with the UN resolutions, and that he was punished.  Now a window of opportunity has opened in the region (Iran vs. Iraq, Israel vs. the Palestinians).  In addition the Arab world in general and Iraq in particular has an incentive for democracy.  The provisional government (in Iraq) is a first step towards democracy, but unfortunately this is not the only conceivable path."


TURKEY:  “The Turkoman Shock For Ankara”


Sedat Ergin evaluated the Iraqi governing council in mass-appeal Hurriyet (7/15):  “For the Turkoman representative, Ambassador Paul Bremer’s choice was a lady from the Turkoman Women’s Union as opposed to Ahmed Aga, leader of Iraqi Turkoman Front.  This choice is completely against what Ankara had been expecting to see, and it has a special meaning.  The US took care to include all political organizations in Iraq, with the notable exception of the Turkoman.  The Turkoman community has been given representation in the governing council not through its main political organization, but through a non-governmental organization.  The US apparently does not want to involve Turkey in the process of Iraq’s political future....  Bremer’s final list clearly says to Ankara that Turkey will not be a part of the political dialogue with the US about Iraq....  After all, this is the ‘political operation’ that comes after the recent military operation against the Turks in Suleymaniye.”






Dammam's moderate Al-Yaum approvingly stated (7/16):  "The establishment of the Governing Council in Iraq is a positive step toward restoring order and stability for the Iraqi people....  Perhaps the creation of the Council, though it is a temporary council, will put an end to the state of confusion, which was about to ruin the independence of Iraq and its territorial integrity.  Furthermore, the establishment of the Council also proved that the Iraqi people, regardless of their political orientation and ethnical and religious composition, are able to work together to overcome a bloody past full of injustices and tyranny....  The pessimists, who do not want to see a united coherent nation, will certainly be disappointed when they see the Council begins to adopt resolutions for the interest of their country."


"The Governing Council" 


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina declared (7/15):  "The Governing Council in Iraq has been formed under the supervision of the occupation authority.  Yet they (the U.S.) still claim that it is a legitimate institution, as long as its members are Iraqis....  The Governing Council that was formed two days ago could derive its legitimacy for current necessities, but it will not survive unless the facts about the occupation presence are changed, and not just on paper."


"Who Will Govern Iraq?"


Riyadh’s conservative, Al-Riyadh editorialized (7/14):  "The Iraqi Governing Council, if all agree to its concept, will become a temporary solution to insure the Iraqi people that the authority will return to a national body.  But if disagreements erupt, a setback will become more dangerous than the American arrangements."


"Questions About The Iraqi Governing Council"


Abha's moderate Al-Watan editorialized (7/14):  "Establishment of an interim Iraqi governing council is the first right step toward rebuilding Iraq since the Anglo-American forces entered Iraq.  But there remain two unanswered questions that surround this issue.  The first has to do with the jurisdiction limits of the council, and the second is about the proportional ethnic formation of the council....  Power once again remains in the hand of one man.  But this time his name is Paul Bremer.  The second point deals with the nature of the proportional representation of the ethnic groups in the council.  It is obvious that such percentages were formed to appease some groups...gain support of other groups...and suppress the powers of another.  Such a formulation will no doubt displease the Sunnis and in no shape or form does it reflect a true representation of the different ethnic groups in Iraq. The success of this council will be contingent upon reconsidering these two important points and restructuring the council on true democratic representation of the people."


"A Step Toward Stability"


Mecca's conservative Al-Nadwa declared (7/14):  "Forming an interim Iraqi council is a step in the right direction towards stabilizing conditions in Iraq's domestic affairs.  The council is Iraq's first executive political institution since the fall of Saddam's regime.  Iraqis must provide the council with their utmost support and confidence....  It is also a clear admission from the U.S. and British forces that they are unable to run Iraq's affairs....  With wisdom and rational thinking the people of Iraq can resolve their differences.  They have to come up with what they think is the best suitable role for an effective and independent government that would put Iraq back where it belongs on the Arab and international political map." 


JORDAN:  “The Legitimacy Of The Iraqi Council Lies In Quickening The End Of Occupation”


Sultan Hattab contended in semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (7/15):  “It is not strange that the formation of the interim council in Iraq is met by such a wave of denunciations and negativity among the Arabs.  Many of us have diligently been drawing the lines of what is right and what is wrong for our Iraqi brothers, even before asking the opinion of those people concerned….  I must say that the formation of the interim governing council in Iraq did not meet the Iraqis demands for national democratic rule nor for putting an end to the occupation.  Furthermore, the Iraqis did not take to the streets in jubilation.  However, the Iraqis, unlike some of their Arab brethren, want to slow down and give this move a chance before judging it.  They could not have adopted a negative stand about an arrangement that brings together all their political forces, despite its shortfalls in terms of the absence of those calling for the revival of the monarchy.  Yet, since this council is temporary and interim in its nature, these shortfalls can be overlooked while highlighting the positive aspects of it in terms of filling the political void and providing a formula, even though not comprehensive, for representing the Iraqi political society.”


“A Governing Council That Lacks Legitimacy”


Fahd Fanek argued in semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (7/15):  “Under pressure from the Iraqi resistance, Iraq’s Governor Bremer was forced to form an Iraqi governing council to be some sort of cover for the occupation before the Iraqi people.  The governing council does not represent the Iraqi people, but the party that appointed it, which is the occupation.  It cannot be considered a push for democracy, because democracy exists when the people are sought to elect their own representatives….  The reference for the appointed governing council is the occupation.  The council may very well turn out to be worse than the occupation and bolder in its wrongdoing.  It has already outbid the occupiers when it considered the day of the downfall of Baghdad as a national holiday….  In its press conference, the governing council expressed its antagonism for the Arabs and for the independent media.  It attacked Arab regimes and the Arab League for their support of Saddam.  It also attacked the BBC on the pretext of being biased in favor of Saddam.  It attacked Al-Jazirah TV and other satellite televisions on the pretext that they are instigating the Iraqi people against the occupation.  It has stressed that Saddam will not be coming back and that survival is for the American occupation alone.”


"Shared Views, Common Goals"


The independent, English-language Jordan Times opined (7/15):  "The commonality of [Arab and russian] views vis-a-vis Iraq and the peace process emerged clearly from the joint press conference by Ivanov and Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher yesterday morning.  Both Muasher and Ivanov welcomed the creation of Iraq's new governing council....  But both also stressed that this council is not the real thing--no matter how really 'governing' it is and with how many actual prerogatives and executive powers it is invested.  The 25-member council is an authority mandated by an occupying power to oversee the transition period towards a real Iraqi government, one that would be mandated and chosen by the Iraqi people....  Jordanians are generally looking with both relief and apprehension at the institution of the 25-member council.  There is satisfaction because at least the Americans have started transferring some authority to some Iraqis--and something is better than nothing.  But there is also worry that Iraqi elections might not be around the corner, and that this new council, which already lacks legitimacy before the Iraqi people, will turn out to be a mere rubber-stamp for the decisions of the one man who is really in control, Paul Bremer." 


“The Interim Council Is A Step In The Right Direction”


Urayb Rintawi said in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (7/14):  “Whatever is being written or said about the recently formed Iraqi interim governing council, there is one fact that cannot be denied, namely that the council is representative of most, if not all, of the active and influential Iraqi political and religious spectrums and that it is the first council in the history of Iraq where seats are distributed in accordance with the demographic distribution on the ground....  The new council, in its formation, job and decisions, is going to face great criticism.  The parties, the people and the tribes who were not represented are going to express their rejection and their doubts.  Yet, despite all this, we must say that we are seeing a transitional step in the right direction, a step that paves the way for other steps that will allow Iraq and the Iraqis to get out of the tunnel of the foreign occupation, just as they had been allowed to get out of the tunnel of dictatorship approximately one hundred days before.”


“Bremer’s New Council And Its Many Issues”


Yaser Za’atreh opined in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (7/14):  “We are not wrong when we say that the authorities given to the Iraqi interim governing council were the result of the heroic Iraqi resistance which has played on the nerves of Bush and the right-wing in the United States and which has left clear marks on the morale of the soldiers….  The issue here may be a genuine distribution of the cake, as if the occupier has really left the game and given Iraq back to the Iraqis.  Yet, close inspection of this issue shows a different story.  The new council enjoys only executive authorities, while the veto remains in the hand of the American governor.  This being the way it is, these authorities actually relieve the Americans of their burden and rescue them from having the image of the dirty occupier by having a town council that undertakes the tasking of the police and public services.  However, matters of sovereignty that affect politics, economy and foreign relations continue to be in the hands of Bremer and his superiors in Washington.”


“The Interim Governing Council”


Jamil Nimri observed in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (7/14):  “International, regional and domestic pressures, and not to forget the armed resistance, have all pushed the occupation administration to establish the Iraqi interim governing council.  This step marks a qualitative move, despite the criticisms that accompanied the announcement of the council….  To say that the Americans are entrenching and encouraging sectarianism is completely false, because sectarian division already exists....  Let us put the Americans aside.  The ball is now in the court of the Iraqis themselves.  The current council is tasked with writing the country’s constitution, which will either hold on to or exclude any sectarianism.  The Iraqis can choose the most advanced and sophisticated of constitutions and can ignore aspects of race and sectarianism.  However, we already know two facts.  The first is that the Kurds want a federation that would give them a great deal of independence and a major role in the central government, while the Shiites and the Sunnis reject the idea of a federation and prefer administrative decentralization.  The second fact is that the Shiites view themselves as having a priority, being the majority, to the presidency of the state.  The Sunnis are the weakest party in this equation, something that is difficult to have end in an understanding.  But if the Sunnis decide to embark on a historic venture that adopts a formula where all racial, ethnic and sectarian considerations are put behind them and where the only foundation and principle is Iraqi citizenship, then it would be worth that venture just for the sake of a happy Iraq, even though this might in reality mean that the Shiite majority would take hold of the legislative council and hence the state institutions.  What does this matter anyway, if there is no oppression or discrimination against any sect of society?”


“A Council For Bremer’s Account Only”


Chief Editor Taher Udwan commented in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (7/14):  "The birth of the new council in Iraq does not constitute national rule nor an elected council that represents the Iraqi people.  This council is the making of an occupation force that invaded Iraq in spite of the opposition of the international community and the United Nations.  It would be gravely wrong for the Arab League to reach the point of recognizing this council.  Such recognition is going to give legitimacy to the increasing occupations in the Arab world, making Sharon the decider of the fate of the Palestinians, and maybe to others in the future.”


LEBANON:  “The Iraqi Governing Council Is A Disturbing Prototype”


Ali Hamade stated in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (7/15):  “They say that the Iraqi interim ‘Governing Council’ is the local Iraqi cover for the American occupation of Iraq.  They also say that the Americans want to hide behind this Council to reduce the pressures they are being subjected to within their Administration....  They also say that the powers given to this Council are ambiguous and lacking particularly since Bremer is going to have the right to veto any decision by the Council he does not agree to.  They also say that a new Iraq will see the light, but this Iraq is planted with ethnic, sectarian and tribal mines.  Perhaps all the above is true, but would it have been possible for those who created the Council to come out with a better Council in these circumstances?....  There is no doubt that anyone who thought that the war against Iraq should have stopped when the military operations had stopped must have realized that the U.S. did not launch the war on Iraq to remove Saddam only....  The Americans came in order to stay in the region for a long time to come.  For this reason they need to change interior equilibriums in order to push everybody, Iraqis and non-Iraqis, to accept the American choices for the region.  For this reason the Council came out as it did....  The Shi’a share, for example, shows that the fact that the Shi’a are a majority in Iraq, was taken into consideration....  The Iraqi prototype will raise the concerns of neighboring countries who will worry about the future of their own regimes that are inherited from the Sykes-Picot phase and the phase of military coups.”


“Will Lebanon Recognize The ‘Iraqi Governing Council’?”


George Alam opined in Arab nationalist As-Safir (7/15):  “The U.S. wants Arab and international recognition of the Iraqi Governing Council and wants to give it international legitimacy as soon as possible.  The U.S. also wants Arabs to accept the new reality and wants Iraq to go back to the Arab League through its Governing Council that was chosen by Paul Bremer.  The U.S. is trying to present its ‘achievement’ to the world through stressing UNSCR 1483...and through confirming that the Governing Council got its legitimacy from that U.N. resolution....  In Lebanon, the Foreign Minister did not yet issue Lebanon’s official position on the Iraqi Governing Council...and is still studying different reactions.  Lebanon also wants to get the opinion of the Arab League and Syria before taking any position.”


“The ‘Lebanese’ Iraq: A Test For Everyone”


Rafiq Khoury observed in centrist Al-Anwar (7/15):  “No one is underestimating the dangers and the difficulties the new Iraqi ‘Governing Council’ will encounter...however, it would be unfair to ignore the opportunities that were opened when the Council was established....  The Council will have to form an interim Government, prepare a new constitution, and prepare for elections of a Government that will represent all the Iraqis and perhaps regain sovereignty and independence.  There are new opportunities also in the fact that the U.S. occupation will have the chance to deal with this Council as the roadmap for Iraqi freedom, and not as a facet of occupation....  It is time to see reality as it is and try to change it for the better.”


"Iraq: Interim Council"


Talal Salman held in Arab nationalist As-Safir (7/14):  "Through the Interim Council, Iraq went back to its basic elements: religions, sects, and tribes....  The ghost of the American occupier, even in civilian clothes, was between one Iraqi and the other.  His shadow dominated the hall where they met and extended to the Arab League....  What is worse is the fact that the Arab states cannot really reject this council because they do not have an alternative.  At the same time, they cannot say that it is legitimate because the council is in fact an extension of the occupation....  In any case, the Interim Council is facing a serious test, not only for its capability, but also for its nationalism."


"Bremer Needs To Make Friends, Not Enemies"


The English-language Daily Star editorialized (7/14):  “Occupied Iraq now has something called a ‘governing council’ which has been installed by the U.S.-led coalition forces.  Its first official act was a symbolic one, declaring April 9 a national holiday to celebrate the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.  It will take more substantive ones, make the body a successful one.  The most essential element in this process will be Bremer’s willingness to give the interim government the independence it needs to take and implement meaningful decisions, some of which might not coincide with U.S. policy....  Bremer needs the governing council and Iraq’s neighbors to work with him, not for him or against him.  That is the only way the interests of all concerned can be protected.  To do otherwise would be shortsighted folly destined to serve no one--not Iraq, not the Middle East, not America--in the long run."


MOROCCO:   "Formation Of Transitional Government Council"


Semi-official French-language Le Matin declared (7/14):  "The opening meeting of the Iraqi Transitional Government Council, held (Sunday) in Baghdad, is viewed by Paul Bremer as the first step towards political normalization leading to forming a government in the framework of a federal, democratic and unified Iraq.  This body will re-establish security and re-launch the economy, while preparing the field for elections that would take place in mid-May."


TUNISIA:  “Fatal Quagmire!”


An editorial by Editor-in-chief M’Hamed Ben Youssef in independent French-language weekly newspaper Tunis-Hebdo read (7/14):  “The situation became so untenable for the GI’s in Iraq that the Pentagon tried, in vain, to  involve other states such as France and NATO and some Arab countries in the ‘Maintenance of Peace’ in Iraq while, in the past, the hawks pretended to be able to achieve everything by themselves without any help from any country....  The maintenance of U.S. troops in Iraq has proved to be a financial catastrophe for the U.S. economy. Hence, Paul Bremer in his attempt to stop this human and financial hemorrhage, has accelerated the ‘reforms’ in Baghdad by creating an ‘Iraqi Governing Council” trying to satisfy everybody. The new ‘Iraqi Governing Council’ is of a Shi’ite majority, and is considered, according to some as a real danger. Plus the Sunnis have been put at the same level with their enemies the Kurds. Is it to deepen the cleavage between the populations in Iraq that this Council has been created?”




AUSTRALIA:  “Iraq Stumbling To Democracy”


The conservative Australian commented (7/15):  “Nobody is kidding themselves that it is a democratic body, with final decisions on its membership resting firmly with chief U.S. administrator Paul Bremer. But as the body delegated to write a new constitution for Iraq, the council represents a symbolic milestone on the march to freedom, independence and democracy by the Iraqi people....  While Governing Council member Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a leader of Iraq's Shia majority, spoke of the role of the council in ending the 'invasion' of Iraq--a comment dropped from the official translation--more important is that the U.S. stay there for as long as the job takes, even if it takes half a decade. “


CHINA:  "An Important Stride In Iraqi Reconstruction"


Wu Wenbin commented in official Communist Party-run People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) (7/15):  "Analysts think that the setup of the Provisional Governing Council of Iraq is a result of the collective efforts and battles by various Iraqi political parties and religious groups.  It is a choice that the U.S. had to make when U.S. troops have suffered frequent attacks over the past three months and when it wants to avoid further involvement in the situation, decrease casualties and relieve domestic pressure.  But Bremer, the highest ranked senior administrative officer of civil posts, remains in charge of supervising the post-war reconstruction of Iraq and still possesses decisive powers.  There are still many difficulties and challenges facing the newly-emerged interim authority of Iraq."


JAPAN:  "Iraqis Must Restore Peace And Order"


Conservative Sankei editorialized (7/16):  "Now that the governing council is inaugurated in Iraq more than three months after Saddam Hessein's ouster, the Iraqi people should work harder and more positively to restore order and democratize their war-devastated nation, currently under U.S. and British military occupation. Although the CPA-appointed 25-member council, consisting of representatives from seven anti-Hussein factions, is not a democratically elected organ, greater expectations are being placed on the council, as it marks the first step towards rebuilding and democratizing the post-Saddam nation.  The most urgent problem facing the council is to restore public order.  Although it may take a considerable period of time to restore peace and order, Iraqis should no longer hold the U.S. military solely responsible for the restoration of order. The Iraqis should also become more aware of their responsibility for the disruption of order and should instead join hands to rebuild Iraq, a proud nation known as the cradle of civilization. Democratization is indispensable to restoring peace and order. Measures should also be taken at an early date to improve employment, medical and other social situations there." 


"First Step To Rebuilding Iraq"


Liberal Asahi observed (7/15):  "The Iraqi governing council consisting of representatives from Shiite and other tribal groups was inaugurated on Sunday, three months after Saddam Hussein's ouster and amid rising Iraqi frustrations with post-war disorder and the continuing U.S. and British occupation of their country....  As the U.S. military is expected to continue its presence to help restore law and order in the war-devastated nation, it is not certain to what extent the council will actually be able to show strong leadership.  But we welcome the council's inauguration as the first step toward rebuilding the war-devastated nation....  U.S. and British peacekeepers should help the governing council strengthen leadership that will draw popular support. At a time when the justification of the U.S.-led war on Iraq has become a matter of international skepticism, countries concerned, particularly the U.S. should first and foremost help Iraqis stabilize their own country."


INDONESIA:  “Challenges Of Iraq Transitional Government Complicated”


Leading independent Kompas commented (7/15):  “The most sensitive issue is the assumption that the transitional government only serves as a U.S. puppet.  The U.S. administrator led by Paul Bremer carried out the process of the government council formation....  The position of the council is not free and it continues to be under the shadow of the U.S. administrator....  In addition, to date the U.S. is not able to verify its reasons for attacking Iraq....  Thus far the U.S. is not able to prove its charges.  It is increasingly suspected that the U.S. charge on Iraq’s WMD resulted from an intelligence fabrication.  If this were the case, the attacks by the U.S. and British troops on Iraq were really cruel and ridiculous.”  


SINGAPORE:  "Some Clarity, Please"


The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (7/14):  "Clearly, the Iraqi operation is going to be longer, more nasty and difficult than anyone in the Bush administration had expected prior to the war.  Restoring Iraq and converting it into an 'example of moderation and democracy and prosperity' in the Middle East, as President George W. Bush put it recently, is definitely a worthwhile venture....  That undertaking can succeed only if the administration retains the American public's confidence; and that can be ensured only if it levels with the public and Congress, explains fully the deteriorating security situation and what it intends to do about it, and does an honest accounting of the war's cost and what sacrifices that would require from the American people.  Brave talk--like Mr. Bush's unseemly 'Bring them on', in response to the increasingly virulent attacks on coalition forces by Saddam loyalists--will not do.  The peace (or rather, the post-war war) can be won only if Mr. Bush displays the same clarity in prosecuting it as he did in prosecuting the war itself."




ZIMBABWE:  “White House In Crisis Over Iraq Invasion Lies”


Patrick Martin held in the government-controlled Herald (7/15):  "Even if one were to accept the convoluted White House account of how flagrant misinformation was incorporated into the State of the Union speech, it amounts to a devastating self-indictment of the U. S. Government....  No amount of lying can conceal two facts: no WMD have been found in Iraq, although Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of weapons was the principal pretext of the invasion; and the U. S. occupiers, far from being welcomed as liberators by the Iraqi people, face a combination of guerilla attacks and widespread popular hostility....  Equally culpable is the American media, which has uncritically accepted one lie after another from the White House, Pentagon and CIA, and served as a propaganda arm of the government in attempting to mobilize political support for the war on Iraq....  Today, the gap between the Bush administration’s rationale for an unprovoked war on the one hand, and the grim reality in Iraq combined with the unraveling of the administration’s lies on the other, are creating the conditions for a far more explosive movement of mass opposition.”    




ARGENTINA:  "Iraq, Gradually In The Hands Of The Iraqi People Once Again"


Daily-of-record La Nacion said (7/14):  "While the USG tries to defend itself from the growing criticism regarding the situation in Iraq, the brand-new transition Government Council--first Iraqi executive organization after the fall of Saddam's regime--gathered for the first time in Baghdad yesterday, in a first step towards the normalization of the country....  The Council's first meetings...may contribute to fill the power vacuum and represents a crucial step in the country's road to democracy....  The Council's first decision was symbolic: it declared April 9 a holiday, marking the day when U.S. forces entered Baghdad and Saddam's downfall. At the same time, it eliminated all the holidays installed by the removed Iraqi regime....  The Council's sessions were welcomed by France, which considered them a 'positive first stage' aimed at restoring Iraqi sovereignty."


BRAZIL:  "Difficult Occupation"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo observed (7/15):  "It would be incorrect, or at least premature, to compare the difficulties currently being faced by the U.S. in Iraq with the long and unsuccessful campaign in Vietnam....  Donald Rumsfeld has left open the possibility of sending more troops to Iraq....  This warning may increase the dissatisfaction of the U.S. public....  Casualties are the problem that mobilizes public opinion more, but there are others such as the destruction of Iraqi infrastructure by the resistance's attacks, and the inability to find Saddam....  The Iraqi Government Council, formed by 25 Iraqi citizens picked by the U.S.-UK administration, will choose ministers and reform laws, but will not have the power to rule.  With such a profile, it will not be easy to convince the population that the council represents something beyond U.S. interests."



Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home