- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2003

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Al-Furat

Yankees go home?

BAGHDAD — In a public opinion survey by Al-Furat on whom to blame for the continuing insecurity, chaos and devastation seven months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, respondents pointed to failure of the United States to fulfill its promises to the Iraqi people, particularly to rebuild a new Iraq and provide freedom, democracy, security, and dignified living.

In the poll of 1,000 individuals, some said the months of occupation were tragic, especially regarding violations of human rights. Attempts to obliterate the Arab and Islamic identity of Iraqi citizens were also mentioned.

Thirty percent of those questioned expressed unconditional support for the continued presence of the occupation forces, and 50 percent supported it until a permanent national government is elected. They expressed concern that the departure of occupation forces earlier than that would lead to total chaos, massacres, instability and unpredictable consequences.

Respondents said there was no substitute to fill the vacuum if the occupation forces left before getting Iraq on a democratic footing. As to public safety in the capital, 48 percent said Baghdad was still a dangerous city and 46 [percent] felt otherwise. One of the reasons cited for the danger was the proliferation of weapons in the hands of teenagers.

Those who thought the city was still dangerous argued that it was no longer possible to rob government offices, so robbers target civilians. Those who considered the city no longer dangerous pointed to the visible presence of local police and the restoration of some telephone service.

Korea Herald

The Russian elections

SEOUL — More than a decade after the end of Soviet rule, Russian society still has some of the attributes that cultivated an authoritarian rule for over 70 years. The refusal to allow two main liberal parties, Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, to share proportional seats casts an ominous sign. In the eyes of these liberals, Russia is rushing toward a police state, with civic liberties curtailed, independent judicial authority threatened and relations with the West and neighboring countries deteriorating. [President Vladimir] Putin and his associates in the Kremlin, on the other hand, may find that the election results allow them to curtail some civic freedoms as the price for maintaining order in their vast nation. …

Putin’s second term, which now appears almost certain, will be a success if he strives first to establish social order and maintain a strong, independent public sector, with proper mechanisms of public oversight through an improved democratic system. A premature attempt to extend his grip on power will surely meet political disgrace.

Daily News

The Commonwealth’s censure

HARARE, Zimbabwe — It is assumed that if before the next [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting] in two years Zimbabwe has not complied with the requirements set out for its readmission it will remain suspended.

[Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe’s government has done little to satisfy the majority of the group that it is anxious to be readmitted. If anything, the introduction of two laws, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act, would seem to suggest the government expects readmission to be unconditional.

But the Commonwealth, once it decided to bite the bullet and not lift the suspension on the basis of some nebulous threat to its very existence without Zimbabwe, must sink its teeth even deeper into the bullet by threatening Zimbabwe with expulsion. Zimbabweans know that this is the only language their president understands, the language of power.

To remain in the Commonwealth, which we know he would love to, Mugabe must bow to the wishes of his peers in that group. No more can he [condemn] his critics and still expect to enjoy peace of mind.


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